Ruby the dog is the newest member to join the St John of God team

St John of God Bendigo Hospital is embarking on a new initiative with the introduction of pet therapy in the hospital in late January.

28 January 2016

Pet therapy is a client-centred and holistic approach that is used to enhance patients’ emotional, cognitive, social and physical wellbeing.

Nurse Unit Manager of the Rehabilitation Ward, Louise Harrison, said the ward was excited to be introducing the pet

therapy with scheduled visits to take place each week from Juliana of the Delta Society with her dog, Ruby.

"Many of our patients live alone and their pets are such important things in their lives," Ms Harrison said.

"Our patients have spent weeks to months in hospital and the distraction of a pet is really good, it also encourages conversation.

"Ruby will visit once per week on a specific day and time. We thought we might try and have her visit individual rooms and are exploring the option of doing a group session with her."

Pet therapy recognises that the close bonds between people and animals can be beneficial to an individual’s overall wellbeing.

Ruby will be visiting St John of God Bendigo Hospital as part of a new initiative, the introduction of pet therapy.

A number of St John of God Hospitals, including Ballarat, Geelong, Frankston and Richmond, are among the divisions to have already introduced pet therapy with extremely positive results.

The pet therapy program is administered with the assistance of Delta Society Australia, which is a national not-for-profit organisation, which ensures that dogs are properly trained and able to comply with health and safety requirements of the hospital.