Where Enjoying Life Matters

DIVERSE PET THERAPY BENEFITS

Hardi Aged Care is a firm believer in the positive benefits of pet therapy for our residents. Our staff agree that pet therapy helps reduce tension, fatigue and confusion in residents and that it can also increase their enthusiasm, brightness and overall interest in life.

Pet therapy also allows our residents to maintain a human and animal bond, and to receive that unconditional affection which is particularly special to animal lovers.  A wide variety of domestic and farm animals have regularly brought joy to Hardi residents over the years. These animal visitors include – horses, dogs, goats and kids, sheep and lambs, guinea pigs, rabbits, chickens, ducks and ducklings – to name just a few. We also have our own resident cat, Wendy, at our Manly Vale facility, who lives on site and is dearly loved by many residents. Animal visits help our residents reminisce about their past experiences with pets, or with animals on farms, and often bring back happy memories.

Hardi Seven Hills residents were recently thrilled to be visited by a gentle specialist pet therapy horse, Bushman, an 18-year-old appaloosa quarter horse. Bushman’s owner Christie Hall, says like just her, this one-in-a-million horse was destined to work in aged care pet therapy. Christie used to work as a nurse in high care dementia facilities. One day she took her horse into work and she knew from the extraordinary reactions Bushman elicited from the most withdrawn residents, she was onto a very good thing. Today, Bushman is a full-time pet therapy horse with Christie and the two of them love their work together, bringing joy to aged care residents. Christie says it is Bushman’s impact on resident senses that is the most powerful.

“The smell of horse seems to make memories come back for people like ‘lighting a match’. Bushman loves to be touched and even with wheelchair-bound residents, he gently rests his chin, tickles with his whiskers, then breathes and nudges until he gets a reaction!” she explains. According to Colette Joyce, Facility Manager at Seven Hills, the addition of Bushman to their existing pet therapy program has been a great hit with residents.

“We find animals can be extremely therapeutic for our residents, both physically and emotionally. Especially for residents suffering from depression (quite common as a result of moving to aged care), contact with animals can really help bring them out of their shell,” she explained. “Bushman was a total charmer and we have received such positive feedback about his first visit to Seven Hills that he will now be returning regularly. There is tremendous excitement when he visits and the joy that radiates from our residents as a result, is a truly wonderful thing to behold,” added Colette.

Through the Delta Society (a heart-warming program that spreads the joy of animal companionship), specialist pet therapy dogs also visit most Hardi homes regularly. Other dogs visit some of our facilities with volunteers too, and sometimes family dogs even come in, when loved ones visit residents. Our Lifestyle Co-ordinators say resident faces typically light up when they see dogs or other animals in their home. This is no surprise when you consider that according to the Delta Society, companion animals bring joy to the lives of 12 million Australians. There is also increasing evidence that companion animals are good for health and wellbeing. These benefits include:

  • Physical – interaction with a furry friend reduces blood pressure, provides tactile stimulation, assists with pain management, gives motivation to move and stimulates the senses;
  • Social – a visit with a dog provides a positive mutual topic for discussion, promotes greater self-esteem and well being, and focused interaction with others;
  • Cognitive – canine companionship often stimulates memory, problem solving and game playing;
  • Emotional – an adorable four-legged visitor improves self-esteem, has a calming effect and lifts mood, often provoking laughter; and, Environmental – a dog in a facility decreases the feeling of a sterile environment, lifts mood and this often continues after the visit. The Delta Society also says that pet therapy particularly helps in aged care because of its psychological and physiological benefits:
  • Elderly pet owners who must enter aged care facilities report feelings of loss when they have to leave their pets behind;
  • Pets provide one of the few interventions capable of permanently lifting the atmosphere of nursing homes; and,
  • Pet therapy has been proven to provide many of the benefits of pet ownership. Hardi’s Blacktown, Seven Hills and Summer Hill facilities also recently had Kindifarm visits which our residents loved.

Kindifarm takes farm animals into nursing homes and encourages residents to hold small pets like rabbits, guinea pigs, chicks and ducklings, to bottle feed baby animals like lambs and kids and to pat other bigger animals, like sheep, goats and miniature horses. Lifestyle Co-ordinator, Karen Bourke, explains that Kindifarm often visits Blacktown during school holidays to help encourage grandchildren to visit. “Our last Kindifarm visit was great for enhancing quality time for our residents with their family members, especially grandchildren”, she said.

Hardi Penrith is also in the midst of constructing its own chicken pen to allow residents to build relationships with each other by helping to raise and care for the facility chickens. According to Facility Manager Amy Walton, the project will see the eggs hatched in an incubator on site and it is hoped, will eventually result in the production of eggs, which can be used for cooking! To find out more about local pet therapy programs and when they are happening at your facility, please check out the group event calnder. https://www.hardiagedcare.com.au/news-events/upcoming-events/

  • “My mother passed away after nearly nine years at Mountainview as a high care resident. I just wanted to say that the staff were wonderful and treated her with respect and dignity. Over the years, as to be expected, we occasionally had issues that needed sorting and they would get straight onto it. I cannot recommend Mountainview highly enough. My mum had no choice but to go into high care following a stroke so initially was distressed at being there, but the love, friendship and laughter provided on a daily basis by staff, residents and relatives meant that she was happy in the last few years of her life. Thank you Mountainview.”

    Penrith – Sharon M (August 2017)

  • “I moved my parents from another facility to Hardi Aged Care at Seven Hills one year ago. It is the best thing that I have done for my parents.In my opinion I say that they moved from a backyard soccer coach to the institute of sport! They want for nothing. They are both in the extra services unit. They each have their own spacious rooms with bathrooms attached. There is a lovely dining hall on the same level, below is another dining hall/lounge room and outside is a lovely garden. Mum and Dad want for nothing.The staff at Hardis are all nice and treat my parents with the respect and love they deserve. All the staff from cleaning, kitchen, maintenance, reception, nursing, laundry, lifestyle staff and management all treat each resident with the same level of love and respect and I believe this is what sets this nursing home apart from all the rest. I am really thankful that Hardis was recommended to me as I do believe that if I had not moved both my parents they would not be here today.”

    Seven Hills – Cornelia Cole (May, 2017)

  • “I would like to thank all of staff looking after my mother Carol. Your team in this area go the next level in caring and I would recommend this nursing home to anyone who asked me. I would like to say a big thank you for all of the help and kind nature all your team has given my mother.”

    Blacktown – Daran Halkett (August, 2016)

  • “My dear friends, what can I say but thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Everybody at your lovely aged care home has been playing well above their weight when it comes to the care that Peter was provided with, I can name a few individuals such as John, Amy, and Greer but everybody knows the list is much larger than that, especially me! Not much else to say except for a very very big heartfelt thankyou to all your staff at Mountainview. The best aged care facility in the world.”

    Neil Temporini (September 2018)

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