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5th May 2024

Companion dogs for patients

Brighter Lives recently funded robotic dogs to help elderly patients staying in hospital. The dogs are not just a cute toy - the fluffy companions help calm and comfort patients by interacting with their ‘owner’ by making the sounds and movements of a real pet.

The companion dogs are being used by the frailty intervention team at Townsville University Hospital to help care for patients living with Alzheimer's disease or dementia.

Clinical nurse Judith Mercer says companion dogs are a powerful diversional therapy tool.

“The research shows they positively impact patients’ anxiety and behaviour. They can have such a positive impact on elderly patients, especially those who lose their pets when they go into an aged care facility or hospital," Judith says.

One of these patients is 95-year-old Keith. Keith lived independently but transitioned to aged care in 2023 after a stroke.

Ms Mercer says Keith was gifted a companion dog from the team and Brighter Lives. The companion dog helped Keith during his recent hospital stay and his daughter described the robotic pup as a blessing for her dad during that time. 

We would love to see as many patients with their own companion pup - can you help? By ‘paying it forward’, you can give a patient a companion dog when they need it:

The companion dogs (and cats) will be used right here in NQ, helping local patients like Keith.

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