Pet therapy a growing part of life in residential aged care

There are still relatively few aged care homes that allow pets – but more providers are using ‘pet therapy’ to improve the health and wellbeing of their residents.

What is pet therapy?

Animal-assisted therapy involves introducing animals to residents, and can involve any type of animal, from cats and dogs to horses and birds. The animals are trained to provide comfort and companionship to older people, as well as to help them learn skills and become more active.

Pet therapy has been shown to help to reduce loneliness, as the presence of an animal can provide a feeling of companionship and security, and increase belonging and sharing among the group.

Studies have also found that pet therapy can reduce blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, and reduce the risk of falls. It can also provide physical stimulation, which can help to increase mobility and strength, and offer a distraction from the pain or discomfort associated with certain medical conditions.

June Brown, a volunteer at South Australian Not For Profit aged care provider Eldercare, brings her faithful friends Wally, the pug, and Billy, the poodle, to Eldercare The Village in Maitland in the Yorke Peninsula, 168km west of Adelaide, on Tuesdays, when they share the love by visiting residents in the common room and in private rooms. Residents at the home are also visited by dogs owned by family and friends.

Photo: St Sergius Aged Care Facility. СЕРГИЕВ ПОСАД (г.Сидней, Австралия)

Eldercare volunteer program coordinator Kylie Maher said canine visitors offered a range of therapeutic benefits and had been a feature of Eldercare homes for many years.

“The dogs allow residents to reminisce and share their love, bringing smiles and sometimes tears,” said Kylie.

“Residents get to pat and share cuddles and they look forward to having their friendly pooches come back.

“We know the feeling of loneliness subsides when people have one-on-one social support and interactions, and the dogs are additional to this and hugely popular.” 

Popular Articles

View All Articles
Article Img
What makes a great retirement village manager?

As anyone who lives in a retirement village will tell you, the village manager is a central figure who is critical to the success of the village and the happiness and wellbeing of village residents. But there’s no doubt the village manager plays an essential role. So, what is the role of a retirement village manager?

Article Img
Retirement village family open their first land lease community

Well-known retirement village family open their first land lease community in Victoria The Gannon family, led by Tom and Michael Gannon, have unveiled 226 homes at the Lucas Lifestyle Estate in Ballarat.

Article Img
73% of Australians willing to sacrifice inheritance for aged care

Nearly three-quarters of all Australians are willing to sacrifice their own inheritance so their parents and grandparents can enjoy the retirement they deserve, according to a new report by B2B aged care service CompliSpace.

Article Img
Volunteers are the backbone of the aged care sector, and more are needed

Tens of thousands of people, of all ages, such as 90-year-old Lily Burns and 20-year-old Charlise Hannagan, volunteer in aged care homes. The Change Makers is the theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week, 15 to 21st May, which celebrates the vital work of volunteers.

A special thanks to our contributors



Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

Ian Horswill


Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

Jill Donaldson


Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.