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30 years of paws-itive impact

In 2018, pet therapy services at Northern Health Bundoora achieved the milestone of 30 years, or 210 dog years of service. The trained, gentle dogs and their owners have provided over 1,800 visits to patients, helping deter feelings of anxiety and loneliness.

The Pet Therapy program at Northern Health Bundoora was developed in 1988 by an Occupational Therapist, also a member of The Kintala Club of Heidelberg, establishing a partnership that still exists today.

With a roster of five dogs making visits once or twice a week to the wards and Planned Activity Social Support Group at Northern Health Bundoora, the pet therapy program has a positive impact on patients at the health service.

Northern Health Bundoora General Manager, Belinda Scott, finds the program effective in meeting the varying physical, social and emotional needs, particularly of the older patients and residents.

“Pet therapy has been proven to relieve worries and anxieties, provide a positive antidote to a sense of loss, isolation and lack of fulfilment, in addition to the social and physical stimulation it provides.”.

“Northern Health recognises the importance of partnerships and cultivating relationships with our staff, volunteers, patients and local community to achieve milestones such as this,” said Ms Scott.

“Our pet therapy program is an excellent example of the benefits of working together with our community for innovative learning, understanding our patients’ needs and the common goal of caring.”

“Congratulations to Northern Health’s pet therapy program on reaching this milestone and a big thank you to The Kintala Club, I look forward to seeing the program and partnership continue for many years to come.”

Rosemary Cresswell of the Kintala Club Heidelberg visits once a month with six year-old Golden Retriever, Andy. She has been volunteering with the program for over 20 years after realising how many people enjoy being around friendly and sociable dogs.

“The reaction from so many patients has been very enthusiastic. Andy strides into the room or ward wagging his tail, looking around, making eye contact with the patients. He is alert and ready to greet strangers and accept a pat or hug, even at times a kiss on the head from real dog lovers!”

“The enthusiasm and enjoyment that patients experience keeps me coming back each year. I am very happy to contribute to the work of Northern Health Bundoora and the wellbeing of patients,” said Ms Cresswell.