PUPPY LOVE: Sue Wilkens with Bella and Fifi.
PUPPY LOVE: Sue Wilkens with Bella and Fifi. Mike Knott BUN101117PALM4

Cute puppies come to the rescue of elderly

RUNNING up and down the halls of the Palm Lakes Care Bargara, playful pouches Bella and Fifi are brightening the stay of residents.

Whether they are dressed in hats for Melbourne Cup or as creepy crawlies for Halloween, the two maltese shih tzus have certainly left their "bark” on the centre.

Owner of the pups and Palm Lakes employee Sue Wilkens said she started bringing Bella and Fifi to work after asking the boss about pet therapy in July and they haven't looked back since.

Palm Lakes Care Bargara resident Ron Hackman with Fifi.
Palm Lakes Care Bargara resident Ron Hackman with Fifi. Mike Knott BUN101117PALM7

"They will often come to work with me and it makes a lot of the residents very happy,” she said.

"A lot of them miss the dogs when I come to work without them.

"There's one resident who used to be afraid of dogs and now loves them.”

Ms Wilkens said Bella and Fifi have also meant some residents have a social interaction and encourage them to get out of their room. She said they give residents like Ron Higgins, a reason to self-mobilise.

"Without the dogs, he won't get up and walk,” she said.

Sue Wilkens with her dogs Fifi and Bella making a difference.
Sue Wilkens with her dogs Fifi and Bella making a difference. Mike Knott BUN101117PALM1

"They love him, they will always be in Ron's room if you can't find them because he's always got the aircon on and they are allowed on the bed.

"For a lot of people in here, seeing the dogs is the highlight of their day.”

Other residents like couple Ken and Margaret Seawards said they were delighted to have Bella and Fifi visit them at Palm Lakes.

"They are just so happy and they make everyone else happy,” they said.

But it's not just the residents who are loving the pet interaction, student carers said they'd noticed the impact the dogs had on residents and didn't mind the company themselves when it came to doing paperwork.

DOG THERAPY: Sue Wilkens with her dogs Bella and Fifi  making a difference to resident Margaret Seawards life at Palm Lakes Care Bargara.
DOG THERAPY: Sue Wilkens with her dogs Bella and Fifi making a difference to resident Margaret Seawards life at Palm Lakes Care Bargara. Mike Knott BUN101117PALM2

Another student said the difference in the residents was noticeable and the use of pet therapy is something they would continue to do.

For more information on Palm Lakes Care Bargara visit http://bit.ly/2zGzuph.

DOG THERAPY: Bella and Fifi  making a difference to resident Margaret Seawards life at Palm Lakes Care Bargara.
DOG THERAPY: Bella and Fifi making a difference to resident Margaret Seawards life at Palm Lakes Care Bargara. Mike Knott BUN101117PALM3


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