MercyCare Joondalup residents feeling the pet therapy love

MercyCare Joondalup resident Diana Royaards with Butch and Zelda.
MercyCare Joondalup resident Diana Royaards with Butch and Zelda.

RESIDENTS at MercyCare’s Joondalup residential aged care facility are enjoying weekly visits from special volunteers.

Eighteen-month-old brother-sister pooches Butch and Zelda visit the home as part of a pet therapy program that has been tailored to enhance the health and wellbeing of residents.

Iluka couple Venessa and Chris Turnbull adopted the Bordoodles (border collie-poodle cross) when they were eight weeks old.

“We call them our cuddle monkeys,” Mrs Turnbull said.

“They just enjoy being with people and wrap themselves around you and snuggle up, so we thought they would be perfect for MercyCare’s pet therapy program.”

Mrs Turnbull said in the past three months her pets had made special connections with many residents, including Diana whose room they made a beeline for at the start of each visit.

“As soon as we walk in, Zelda starts pulling to go towards Diana’s room,” she said.

“When we get there, Butch puts his head on her lap and they all really have such a special connection.”

She said a lot of residents were responding well to the dogs.

“You see their eyes light up when the dogs walk into the room; it’s really lovely to be able to give such joy,” she said.

MercyCare volunteer coordinator Anne Ward said Butch and Zelda’s visits were “good for the soul”.

“Research shows that pet therapy offers significant health benefits by encouraging socialisation, particularly for residents living with dementia,” she said.

“The visits also offer sensory engagement for our residents who are hearing and vision impaired; they can engage with the animals through touch, pat and play.”