Furry, four-legged therapy for patients

A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS: Dr Peter Fox with Yoshi, Noni Cole with Jasper, Linda Shreeve, and Marita Tipene with Max at the launch of Daffodil Cottage’s new Pets as Therapy program yesterday. Photo: PHILL MURRAY 043014ppetsCancer patients at Bathurst’s Daffodil Cottage are set to benefit from a new Pet Therapy Program launchedyesterday.
Nanjing Night Net

The program will run twice a month and it is hoped it will eventually expand to include hospital visits.

Oncology/Palliative Care Services nurse unit manager Maria Tipene said the therapeutic benefits

animals provide to humans have long been documented, and many health facilities host therapeutic and companion animals in visiting patients.

“Patients undergoing cancer treatment can benefit greatly from having some contact with an animal, both physically and emotionally,” she said.

“These include lowered stress and anxiety, less loneliness and often a decreased need for pain medication.”

Ms Tipene said three dogs have been identified as potential visitors to Daffodil Cottage, all of which have been well socialised, vaccinated and health checked by a vet.

“Dogs were chosen as the visiting pets as they are easy to train and have an appropriate temperament,” she said.

“Patients will be able to visit the dogs in the courtyard, where fresh food, drink and shelter will be provided for the dogs.

“Volunteers will also walk the dogs so that they can be toileted away from the courtyard safely and cleanly.”

Ms Tipene said Daffodil Cottage has developed policy and protocol around local infection control and hand hygiene for the Pet Therapy Program.

A local veterinarian will provide checks and support for the dogs, while a Pet Therapist Program co-ordinator will manage it.

Linda Shreeve, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer just before Christmas, welcomed the program.

Ms Shreeve, who is halfway through her chemotherapy treatment, said when she arrived at Daffodil Cottage yesterday she was feeling quite low, but the fact that she could come out into the courtyard and pat the visiting dogs made her feel much better.

“I think it will prove a real benefit to the patients because they have so much energy and they never judge you,” she said.

“Sometimes when you have cancer people keep you at an arm’s length. If you are feeling a bit down, a dog will come and just quietly sit with you.

“I think the program will also be of huge benefit in the hospital because patients are often lonely because their friends and family can only spend so much time visiting them.

“Whether you have been away for five hours or five minutes, dogs are always so excited to see you.”

She said the staff at Daffodil Cottage and Bathurst Hospital have been really wonderful.

The program will operate on the first and third Wednesday of each month from 9am for up to four hours.

“We are really looking forward to

providing the Pet Therapy Program for our patients and their families and thank everyone who has assisted us in getting it up and running,” Ms Tipene said.

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