19 November 2012
19 November 2012
Academics and students from the University of the Sunshine Coast’s School of Health and Sport Sciences will work with the Caloundra Community Centre in the roll-out and analysis of a program that aims to help senior citizens look after their pets.
The Pets for Life program was developed by the Centre’s Community Development Coordinator Tomas Passeggi, who graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Community Work) from USC in 2009.
Mr Passeggi said the program will enlist volunteers to help older people who are having difficulty caring for their pets in their own homes.
“It would be terribly sad if people had to relinquish their dogs or cats because they can’t look after their pets on their own anymore,” he said.
“The volunteers will help with practical tasks such as dog walking, changing litter trays and administering pet medication. They will also foster a relationship with the client and that can be therapeutic as well.”
The program recently received a $344,000 grant from the Federal Department of Health and Ageing.
USC’s Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy Dr Michael Lyons has committed to working with the Caloundra Community Centre to conduct and supervise research into the benefits of the program.
“We believe that USC’s pairing with the Caloundra Community Centre, by providing a research component to this project, added to the strength of the centre’s funding application,” Dr Lyons said.
“As of the middle of 2013, we will have Occupational Therapy Honours students evaluating the program, which potentially offers great health and wellbeing outcomes for pet owners and the volunteers.
“From USC’s perspective, it is a lovely opportunity for community engagement.”
— Michelle Widdicombe