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Pet Therapy Pals a source of comfort and companionship for dementia patients

“She is a wonderful, wonderful friend,” says Alan Wardley, when talking about his Pet Therapy Pal, Spotless.

Alan, who has dementia, was a patient at The Mornington Centre when he was identified as someone who would benefit greatly from being part of Peninsula Health’s Pet Therapy Pal program.

Pet Therapy Pals are special weighted stuffed animals that can remind patients of the feeling of holding and caring for an actual pet, keep patients company or are just available for a cuddle when patients need one.

“Patients that are very confused, who are really missing home, are lonely and don’t understand why they’re here in hospital really benefit from the program,” explains Maureen Donovan, a diversional therapist at The Mornington Centre.

“For people who have pets, it provides them with some familiarity and a link to home.”

“We know that stroking an animal has incredible effects on calming people down, on making them feel peaceful and that’s exactly what the program does.”

Alan responded well to having a Pet Therapy Pal as it triggered memories of his cats at home.

“It is a very, very good therapy for people with dementia,” says Greta, Alan’s wife.

“My family and I can all see how much love Alan has for Spotless, as he named her.”

Peninsula Health is currently raising money for the Pet Therapy Pal program, so more people like Alan can have access to a Pet Pal.

“These weighted animals are expensive and not all patients’ families are in a financial position to be able to buy them,” says Maureen.

“Often patients go into care after leaving The Mornington Centre, so by taking a Pet Pal with them it provides a link and ongoing continuity between home, hospital and care.”

“Supporting the Pet Therapy Pal program is a beautiful thing for the community to do for really confused, lonely, frightened, older adults whose situations change so dramatically.” 

You can sponsor a Pet Therapy Pal by making a donation.