Latest News

Lort Smith pet therapy dogs helping the mental health of frontline healthcare workers

Our best friend during COVID-19: How pet therapy dogs are helping the mental health of our frontline healthcare workers

In the past two weeks, a small number of Lort Smith pet therapy dogs started visiting the hard working staff at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and sharing the canine love.

Lort Smith Head of Hospital, Dr David Cunliffe said, “Staff at the Peter Mac like so many other hospitals across Melbourne are in need of support at this time.

“So when a call came to Lort Smith from our friends at Peter Mac with concerns about the impact of the latest COVID-19 outbreak on their frontline healthcare workers, our pet therapy volunteers responded with a resounding “YES’’ to coming back to visit staff.

“We have a strong, positive partnership with Peter Mac staff, who see first-hand the incredible impact a dog’s presence can have on people experiencing acute distress, pain, and trauma. The staff go above and beyond to support our visiting volunteers and to provide the opportunity for people to benefit from the human-animal bond,” he said.

Although the Lort Smith Pet Therapy program began over 32 years ago as part of the community outreach services, it was originally designed for patients and residents in hospitals, aged care and juvenile justice facilities.

However, due to COVID-19 the volunteer pet therapy teams have been unable to visit the high-risk, vulnerable groups, and instead there has been a strong interest for pet therapy services as a support for healthcare workers.

“In non-COVID times, these incredible dogs from Lort Smith are a common sight in our inpatient wards,” said Peter Mac’s Chief Nursing Officer, Jac Mathieson.
“They always bring a smile to the faces of our patients and their visitors, and of course our staff.
“A massive thank you to Lort Smith for everything you are doing to support wellbeing at Peter Mac.”

Pet therapy is used in defence and first responder industries being recognised as an established measure for helping employers manage workplace stress and support mental health and wellbeing.

Lort Smith is an iconic Melbourne institution serving the community for 85 years, and is the busiest not- for-profit animal hospital in Australia, seeing around 25,000 animals each year.

The research on pet therapy:

About the Lort Smith Pet Therapy program:

· Lort Smith Animal Hospital – North Melbourne was established in 1936 to care for the animals of people who would otherwise not be able to afford veterinary care. We now operate the largest and busiest not-for-profit animal hospital in Australia, and have been serving the community and promoting the human-animal bond for 85 years.

· The Lort Smith Pet Therapy Program began 32 years ago as part of our community outreach services. The program is provided by volunteers accompanied by their own specially assessed and approved dogs.

· Our current therapy program targets patients and residents in our partner facilities, but we have received strong interest for pet therapy services for the staff and carers themselves, many of whom are experiencing high levels of stress and burnout in the workplace.

· Work-related mental health conditions are a major concern in Australian workplaces. According to Safe Work Australia, each year, approximately $543 million is paid in work-related mental health claims, and the occupations with the highest rate of claims include health and welfare support workers, prison officers and social and welfare professionals.

· Lort Smith pet therapy has provided support to tens of thousands of people recovering from illness, injury, trauma or loneliness in facilities including hospitals, aged care, community service organisations and prisons throughout Victoria.

Note: Lort Smith currently work with most major Victorian health providers including; Melbourne Health, Western Health, Alfred Health, Monash Health, The Royal Children’s Hospital and St Vincent’s Health, as well as many aged care and community service organisations across Victoria. We receive hundreds of facility enquiries every year.

MEDIA RELEASE, 10th September 2021

No comments

Post a Comment