LiveBetter Disability Services Active Participation Program participants are assisting in training therapy pets at the aged care facility in the hope their shared contact will help prepare the animals for visits to local nursing homes, schools and hospitals.
LiveBetter Disability Support Manager, Michelle Stark said the benefit is two-fold, with both the animals and participants profiting from the program.
“LiveBetter participants bring a range of personalities and traits to the training of the animals. The animals learn to be around a variety of people, and to be calm and follow instruction no matter what situation the animals are faced with,” Ms Stark said.
She said involvement in the program has given participants pride in themselves and has empowered participants to feel like valued members of the local community.
“Animal therapy improves mental, social, emotional and physical functions of individuals,” she said.
Ms Stark said LiveBetter customers will be increasing the amount of training throughout each week. This will involve clients sitting with animals, reading and talking to them and training them to walk on a lead.
“This will teach the animals to remain calm, follow instruction and be trained to act appropriately no matter what situation they are put in,” she said.
Benefits to ones mental health are many as well, including increasing socialisation and decreasing feelings of social isolation and loneliness; reducing boredom; and lowering anxiety.
The benefits of gardening for older people have also been well documented over the years and share many joint benefits with pet therapy. It is also an enjoyable form of exercise which helps mobility and flexibility; encourages the use of all motor skills; and helps prevent diseases like osteoporosis.
All round having both access to animals and a farm garden is no doubt great for the body and soul.