Dogs for Dementia is one of Australia’s first assistance dog programs to help people and their families live with dementia.
Dogs 4 Dementia is the first time in Australia that expert Dementia Centre consultants have partnered up with skilled Assistance Dogs Australia trainers to place dogs into the homes of people living with dementia.
Dogs 4 Dementia is an innovative pilot program designed to bring together 8 assistance dogs with 8 carers of people living with dementia in the community. It will test and evaluate whether support from specifically trained assistance dogs can improve the quality of life for a person with dementia and their carer and allow them to remain living at home for. The assistance dogs will be trained to perform key tasks according to the individual needs of the couple. It will be building on work done by the Dementia Dog project in Scotland.
Through special training an assistance dog is taught to respond to cues in ways that promote confidence and independence in a person living with dementia. They devotedly offer a paw of support and companionship when in the home or out-and-about accessing the community.
Dogs 4 Dementia equips a person living with Dementia and their carer with a dog that is carefully chosen to match their household personalities and then specially trained to meet their specific needs.
A broad range of important psychological and social benefits are expected.
- The dogs can provide an anchor to the person in terms of routine, assistance, grounding and emotional well-being.
- Other benefits include cognitive, emotional and physical support.
- Some of the helpful things dogs can do include:
- Reminding a person to take their medications, eat or drink
- Recognising a specific movement a person would make when in distress and push an emergency button on the phone or bark loudly for help
- Prompting a person to read a note left by a carer
- Opening cupboards and drawers
- Turning the lights off after people have fallen asleep
There are no upfront costs to participate in this program or for the purchase of a dementia assistance dog.
Dogs 4 Dementia will cover the cost of the dog and will cover associated costs for the first year (veterinary, feeding, worming, grooming and training). However participants will be responsible for all associated costs after the first year, as they would if they owned any other dog.
Dogs 4 Dementia will follow the participants’ experiences over the first year and will share the outcomes and personal stories on there website. It is hoped that these dogs will promote greater independence, confidence, and allow people who have dementia to remain living at home for longer.
Dogs 4 Dementia is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. Visit www.dss.gov.au for more information.