St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne introduces new programme for older adults with mental illness | Healthcare Asia Magazine
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Photo from St. Vincent's Hospital Melbourne.

St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne introduces new programme for older adults with mental illness

The Canine Assisted Therapy caters to patients over 65 years old.

St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne launched the Canine Assisted Therapy (CAT) programme to support older adults suffering from mental illness.

In a statement, St. Vincent Hospital said the new dog therapy programme, developed by its Healthy Ageing Service, provides support to people over 65 years old living in Melbourne's Eastern and Northern regions who have been referred for brief mental health intervention.

"Half of our residents living in aged care are experiencing depression, and many are anxious as well,” Tanya Cottrell, Manager of St Vincent's Healthy Ageing Service, said.

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“Loneliness is a big problem in aged care, which is even worse after the COVID pandemic. We offer mental health support to more than one-third of Melbourne’s older adult population, which includes more than 200 aged care facilities,” Cottrell added.

The one-hour-long sessions are conducted either weekly or fortnightly depending on the need and can last up to three months, in their homes or at the aged care facility they reside in.

Various techniques used in the sessions include psychotherapy, behavioural activations, sensory modulation, and reminiscence therapy.

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