BAB Voices: Paws for Wellbeing
One Bristol organisation is on a mission to improve wellbeing in dementia care homes in an innovative way.

One Bristol organisation is on a mission to improve wellbeing in dementia care homes in an innovative way. They are bringing volunteers and their dogs to play with residents in care homes and hospitals around Bristol.

“There are lots of things about spending time with dogs that we believe can help older people living with dementia,” Volunteer Coordinator Gina Green says. “Stroking and caring for a pet can help to give the people we work with a sense of purpose and agency. I’d challenge anyone not to feel better after a few minutes playing with a friendly dog!”

It’s a well-established fact that contact with domesticated animals can be a powerful form of stress relief. Many studies have shown that contact with pets can result in lowered blood pressure, lower levels of stress hormones and higher levels of beneficial hormones linked to happiness.

Paws for Wellbeing was set up by Gina in 2016 to share the wellbeing that pets can bring with people who can’t look after or easily access animals. Sessions can involve one-to-one contact with dogs for residents, playing with toys and games and learning more about the dogs with interactive books that play sound clips.

Volunteer Andrea takes her dog Tink to care homes and hospitals on a weekly basis. Andrea says: “She’s so loved at home by us and she has such a lovely personality that I just wanted to share that with other people.

“She’s so laidback and tolerant, such a sweetheart, that the people we visit just love her.”

Andrea and Tink are friends with Gina, and have been volunteering with the charity for over a year. “I wanted to do something worthwhile,” Andrea says, “And it’s a wonderful thing to be involved with. It’s the first time I’ve ever volunteered and it’s a great feeling. I feel more involved in the community than I ever have.

“You can see in the faces of the people we work with that it makes a real difference.”

Paws for Wellbeing was supported by the Bristol Ageing Better Community Kick-Start Fund, which offers up to £2,000 of goods and services to groups tackling loneliness and isolation in older people in Bristol.

The Community Kick-Start fund is now accepting new applications from groups working in the Bristol Area. Bristol Ageing Better Project Officer Bianca Rossetti says: “Over the last couple of years we’ve supported some really brilliant and innovative new projects and we can’t wait to see what Bristol has to offer for this next round of applications.”

Anyone interested in applying to the fund can find out more here. Applications close on Friday 13th April 2018.

Call us: 0117 928 1539

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