Positive feedback for Dogs 4 Dementia

Initial feedback from couples who have received dogs as part of the ground-breaking Dogs 4 Dementia project is very positive.

Barbara and John, who have Nina, said there was an instant connection from day one including a good experience for extended family.

“We have had dogs for years. The rewards are enormous and Nina has added another dimension of joy to our lives.

“Nina has been the focus of much happiness within our family and provided a lovely connection.”

Barbara said the training is intensive and the carer must be committed and up for the experience. But she said Nina had settled in beautifully to their home and displayed no untoward behavior since her arrival.

To read more about the first few months of Barbara and John’s experience visit the Dogs 4 Dementia website.

Rolf and Vyrna, who have Jiyu, also said the training was hectic but the overall experience has been positive.

“It is lovely to have the dog in the house and do things with him and for him," Vyrna said. "He is a great companion and the interaction has been really enjoyable. He is so well trained.”

For more of Rolf and Vyrna’s experience visit the website.

Early experiences discussed

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Earlier this week, the couples met in Melbourne with officials from the Department of Social Services and HammondCare’s Dementia Centre to talk about their initial experiences.

The Dogs 4 Dementia project, run in partnership between the Dementia Centre and Assistance Dogs Australia, was first launched in NSW and Victoria in April this year and has since been expanded to South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland.

Expressions of interest in the program are still being received with dogs continuing to be placed in homes early next year. People living at home with a recent diagnosis of dementia, who have a live-in carer, are invited to express interest in participating in the project.

All applications undergo an assessment process and if successful, the dog becomes a lifelong companion.

Significant benefits expected

Director of the Dementia Centre, Associate Professor Colm Cunningham, said the Dogs4Dementia project was expected to bring significant benefits to people living with dementia at home with a carer.

“Preliminary results from an overseas study show that the presence of the specially trained dogs can help support the person with dementia and carer, extending their capacity to live at home.

“Reduced hospitalisation and delayed admission to residential aged care are possible outcomes we will be evaluating as well as the positive impact these beautiful dogs can have on the care-giving relationship and carer wellbeing.”

Assistance Dogs Australia’s 'Top Dog', Richard Lord said, “Assistance Dogs Australia is enjoying working closely with HammondCare in this ground breaking project.

“We know that our experience in providing service dogs for people with physical disabilities, children with autism and for those suffering from PTSD will hold us in good stead when working with the participants in the project.”

Please contact Dogs 4 Dementia on 02 8437 7355 or for more information visit the Dogs 4 Dementia website.