Pet-matching service bringing joy to senior citizens

Posted on Wednesday, 17 February 2016

A $5,000 donation from Canterbury League Club has helped Inner West Neighbour Aid (IWNA) match up to 25 mature pets to socially-isolated seniors living in the local Canterbury area.

Since the program started four years ago, the Neighbour Aid Pets (NAP) program has successfully partnered over 60 pets to older people or people with a disability. IWNA has a strong partnership with RSPCA’s Yagoona shelter which provides animals for adoption and also conducts the pre-placement medical checks including de-sexing and vaccinations.

“Research shows that the companionship provided by a pet can significantly improve health and wellbeing, and reduce loneliness and social isolation,” said Allison Yee-Brogan, General Manager of IWNA.

“NAP is a program designed to match older people with mature pets who have slowed down their lifestyles but are still great companions. Our services are advertised through local media, radio, letterbox drops through council and street signage. Many clients find out about our services through word of mouth, via other clients, our volunteers and other community services.”

The program is also supported by many volunteers who are assigned to senior clients to help walk and groom their pets if they have difficulty providing care themselves. An extra benefit to this is that volunteers can spend some time chatting with their clients and develop meaningful connections with seniors who might otherwise have limited social interactions.

“Volunteers are generally people living in the local area with a passion for animals and helping people in our community. We usually have a surplus of volunteers as there are a lot of pet lovers out there!” said Allison.

“Canterbury LGA has a growing population of senior citizens and there is the added challenge of many of our residents comes from non-speaking English background. This often adds to their social isolation. The Club has a commitment to our local community to always support aged health services that will improve our residents’ quality of life,” said Dr George Peponis OAM, Chairman of Canterbury League Club.