Greyhound Rescue has partnered with HammondCare to launch Hounds Helping Humans, a program to provide companionship to Australia's senior citizens in aged care facilities.
Greyhound Rescue, a nonprofit organization launched in Australia in 2009, has partnered with HammondCare to support the elderly in residential aged care homes by giving them a sense of companionship through the novel Hounds Helping Humans program. The nonprofit will take rescued greyhounds to care homes, where senior citizens will have the opportunity to interact with them. According to experts, visits from an animal can be an energetic experience or an exciting part of a person’s day, especially for those diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Therefore, the pilot program is expected to improve residents' overall well-being. So far, the project's volunteers have had an "amazing heartfelt response" to the initiative, Australian Dog Lover reports.
Natalie Panzarino, the President of Greyhound Rescue, said she was excited about the chance to work with senior citizens. "At Greyhound Rescue we know all too well the magic that these incredible greyhounds can bring to people’s lives," she said in an interview with the media outlet. "What better way to share this magic with more people than bringing Greyhounds to where they are really needed, to brighten the lives of people who are craving connection and companionship. Greyhounds are great candidates to assist with well-being in aged care services. They are generally calm and docile in nature as well as being tall enough to be accessible to people who are in wheelchairs or confined to beds."
HammondCare, an independent Christian charity, is equally excited about the project as life engagement is a key component of the organization's relationship-based model of care. Chief Executive Mike Baird shared, "Meaningful involvement with everyday life is crucial to everyone’s well-being. What a wonderful outcome if rescued Greyhounds can be given a new purpose providing happiness for those who are older in the community." The two organizations have been collaborating to develop the Hounds Helping Humans project for several months now.
"COVID lockdowns kept frustrating our plans and shifting our start date, but the enthusiasm never waned," Panzarino explained. "When we announced the program to our volunteers there was an amazing heartfelt response. So many of our people are keen to be part of this initiative and contribute to such an important part of society." The initiative was made possible by a grant from Australian Ethical. Hound and human teams were carefully composed through a stringent selection process. Each team has undergone purpose-designed training to prepare them for the sounds, sights, activities and equipment (such as wheelchairs and trolleys) they will encounter in the aged care environment. The training also encompasses communication techniques to facilitate meaningful connections between the hounds and HammondCare clients.
Kerry-Ann Plant is one of the volunteers visiting care homes with her greyhound Eevee. She said, "When the idea was floated I thought Eevee would be a great candidate. She loves meeting new people, if they are sitting or standing all the better; she thinks they are waiting for her to give her pats. I thought it was such a lovely idea to be able to bring a bit of joy to people who don't have the chance to connect with beautiful puppies, it is a match made in heaven." Like Plant, dozens of other volunteers have signed up to brighten the days of senior citizens across Australia's aged care homes. You can learn more about the Hounds Helping Humans program by following Greyhound Rescue on Facebook. Click the link here.