Best girl Molly brings her old mate Ray untold happiness
IT might sound like a fluffy title, but the role of Chief Happiness Officer comes with a lot of responsibility.
Just ask Molly, the six-month-old border collie who is one of a more than a dozen chief happiness officers tasked with putting a smile on the dial of residents in aged care homes across NSW and Queensland.
The pooches are part of Creature Comforts, a new wellbeing program run by not for profit aged care provider Whiddon, that has already been rolled out in Kyogle, Grafton and Lismore.
For many residents like Ray Shephard, 93, Molly's company means the world.
"Molly and I are quite good friends, she's a very good companion," the Kyogle Whiddon resident said.
"I go out and sit in a chair in the courtyard and throw balls and rope and she brings them back.
"She's a good pace maker."
Molly's owner Kathy Gibson brings her to work each day and said the energetic pup bounds in to greet the residents.
"She's especially good with our dementia patients," Ms Gibson said.
"Being in a rural area, a lot of the community here have had dogs themselves so it brings back a lot of nice memories for residents with dementia."
The pooches are former rescue animals, guide dogs, and family pets and once they become part of the program, they are given official uniforms.
Head of strategy and innovation at Whiddon Karn Nelson said the program was developed from research showing having pets can improve wellbeing, reduce anxiety and depression and increase social connection.
"The benefit we see out of it is that greater sense of purpose," Ms Nelson said.
"It also keeps residents more active, whether it's walking the dog or going outside, it is giving them more incidental exercise."
Whiddon has also championed the HenPower program, which encouraged residents to hand-rear chooks.