The recently implemented Palliative Paws program at St John of God Bunbury Hospital, sees specially trained dogs visit patients at the hospital. The program was founded by Nurse Unit Manager Kerry Smith and Clinical Nurse Specialist Eileen Harris, who believed that patients would benefit from the love and affection that dogs provide.

Patient at St John of God Bunbury Hospital, Michelle, has welcomed the program with open arms. Michelle thoroughly enjoys the visits from the dogs and said the program aided her recovery.

Michelle, who regularly goes in for treatment at the hospital, says the connection with the animals helps to bring a taste of the outside world into the hospital. The gentle natured golden retrievers Rigsby and Daisy, bring a calming effect to the patients they visit. Michelle says their presence is uplifting and brings enjoyment to what can sometimes be a difficult time.

The specially trained dogs are owned by St John of God Bunbury Hospital Palliative Care Specialist, Dr Carolyn Maserai, who regularly brings Rigby and Daisy on her rounds through the ward.

Pet therapy has proven psychological and physiological benefits and can be beneficial to a person’s overall wellbeing. The low-tech low-cost therapy has the ability to enhance the mood of hospitalised patients by providing them with the unconditional love that can be shared with an animal.

The program is funded by the Lynne Anderson scholarship, which aims to fund non-health related therapy or services that directly benefit patients. The scholarship was introduced in memory of registered nurse, Lynne Anderson who helped pioneer the development of cancer services in Bunbury and the South West. Lynne passed away in 2015 after her own battle with cancer.