Therapy dog Lulu visits Lily House

There’s no doubt that patting a puppy brings pure joy to any environment. Unfortunately for residents at Mai-Wel’s Supported Living House, Lily House, a permanent pet is a fall risk, and for the safety of residents, not permitted. However, that doesn’t mean residents have to miss out on the joys of animal companionship.

After some residents in Lily House expressed interest in spending some time with man’s best friend, Mai-Wel staff discussed possibilities and looked to external organisations who could bring a therapy animal into the house, but it was going to be costly. Fortunately, one of Mai-Wel’s Support Coordinators had liaised with Kickstart Collective in the past, who specialise in a range of Therapy treatments, including the use of an Animal Assistance Therapy Dog.

Animal Assisted therapy is a modality of therapy where an animal is involved throughout the therapeutic process to assist an individual or group of clients reach a specific treatment goal. Research has shown that the mere presence of a therapy dog can have an immediate positive effect, improving mood and reducing anxiety.

The use of a therapy dog also helps to heighten enthusiasm and motivation to help clients reach their therapy goals, as well as to create a dialogue and open rapport with their therapist.

When Support Coordinator, Raechel called up Emily from Kickstart Collective, she was delighted to hear that the team were more than happy to come out with therapy dog, Lulu to visit residents at Lily House. As it turns out, some of the team had already expressed an interest to work with older participants.

The team travelled with Lulu to Lily House to provide support and companionship to the residents of the home. The team now visit the home on Mondays and Fridays each week for both one-on-one support and group support with Lulu. Some of the activities that residents, Lulu and the Kickstart team enjoy together include playing bingo, doing puzzles, discussing the most recent episodes of TV series, ‘Heartland’, learning new signs for communication, enjoying the sunshine and going for a walk… and Lulu has recently discovered she really enjoys razzing the resident bird!

Visits from Lulu bring so much joy to Lily House residents and give them something special to look forward to twice a week. These sessions provide companionship and improve mental health of residents in a way that is engaging and, most important of all, loads of fun!

We want to give a big thank you to the team at Kickstart, who didn’t hesitate to engage with participants when we reached out, despite their day-to-day work focusing on assisiting children and youth.

To learn more about Mai-Wel’s Support Coordination or Supported Living services, contact us on 4057 2900 or STaRT@maiwel.com.au.

Pictured: The residents of Lily House love spending time with therapy dog Lulu.