Greyhound Rescue has partnered with HammondCare to bring a spark of joy and
companionship to people in residential aged-care homes.
The program, now being piloted, is based around regular visits from Greyhound Rescue
teams of a Hound + Handler. Initially the main focus will be on HammondCare clients living with dementia.
Ms Panzarino, President of Greyhound Rescue said, “At Greyhound Rescue we know all too well the magic that these incredible greyhounds can bring to people’s lives. 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 greyt candidates to assist with wellbeing 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,” said Ms Panzarino.
HammondCare Chief Executive Mike Baird said life engagement is a key component of
HammondCare’s relationship-based model of care.
“Meaningful involvement with everyday life is crucial to everyone’s wellbeing,” Mr Baird
said. “What a wonderful outcome if rescued greyhounds can be given a new purpose
providing happiness for the those who are older in the community,” he said.
HammondCare and Greyhound Rescue have been working for months to develop the
Hounds Helping Humans program. Ms Panzarino said, “COVID lock-downs kept frustrating our plans and shifting our start date, but the enthusiasm never waned.
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 development of the Hounds Helping Humans program was funded by a grant from
Australian Ethical. Hound + human teams have been carefully-selected for the program.
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 an aged care environment. The training also encompasses communication techniques to facilitate meaningful connection between the hounds and HammondCare clients.
HammondCare Senior Research Fellow, Professor Susan Kurrle, said she would be interested to see whether interactions with greyhounds could improve quality of life.
She said a big advantage they have is their height –an older person sitting down can be eye level - to eye level with them without bending down.
“Dogs can have a wonderful, calming effect for someone with dementia. I have seen how quickly they can calm agitation,” Prof Kurrle said.
The Hounds Helping Humans program is starting at selected HammondCare residential aged care homes. Ongoing evaluation of the program will measure the positive ways the program enriches the lives of humans and hounds alike.
Comments from Greyhound Rescue participants: Claudia Barton, who is visiting care homes with her hound Captain, said: “I knew how much it meant to my grandma to have visits in her nursing home. When I got your email about the program I thought it would be a nice way to pay something forward and share Captain's love
with more people. My grandma would never have said it, but she would've loved captain if she'd met him.”
Shelley Tinworth, who is visiting care homes with her hound Jessi, said: “Many older folks tell us about their animals growing up, and it got me to thinking how hard it must be for those in supported care not to have that connection any longer. When this program was announced, I thought Jessi would be perfect as she has so much love to give and is always happy to receive that back in return.”
Kerry-Ann Plant, who is visiting care homes with her hound Eevee, 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's a match made in heaven”.
Bronwyn Mitchell, who is visiting care homes with her hound Sunny, said: “Sunny loves to interact with everyone who crosses our threshold and out in the community. He makes sure they get their fair share of pats, neck rubs, wet nose nudges and chin rests on their laps. Our clients love it and I’m sure at times they come to see Sunny not us. So when I heard about the hounds helping humans I just knew this was the something Sunny was born to do - spreading his unconditional love to all he meets”.
Media: For more information contact:
Natalie Panzarino, +61 403 819 961
Jeremy Richman, + 61 411 100 237
Greyhound Rescue: Greyhound Rescue, a multi-award-winning charity, is the largest
independent greyhound rehabilitation and rehoming organisation in Australia.
The organisation operates a large kennel facility at Bargo, named ‘Greysland’, which includes 40 regular, quarantine, and recouperation kennels. Much of our work involves bringing these beautiful hounds out of their shell, teaching them to be confident, solve problems and, most importantly, teaching them to trust. For many greyhounds, Greysland is their first experience of human kindness. In 2020, Greyhound Rescue was awarded Australia’s Rescue Organisation of the Year – a nationwide award.