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Tony McMahon | 30th Apr 2013

A MINI labradoodle puppy named Lola is having a remarkable therapeutic effect on the lives of dementia residents at Rockhampton's Benevolent Age Care facility.


Lola first made acquaintances at the facility in January with her breeder, Rockhampton's Penny Valigura, who was visiting her aunty, a dementia resident.

"It was amazing really," Penny said.

"When some of the other dementia residents saw Lola their faces lit up; they smiled. There was recognition and speech where previously I had never seen it as they had just sat there looking so sad."

Penny was so taken by the interactions Lola created with the residents, she arranged for Cathy Barry, a registered nurse at the facility, to take on a guardianship program with Lola.

Now Lola the labradoodle, a breed renowned as companion dogs with a friendly temperament, works the facility's units on a daily basis with Cathy.

"We have 115 residents here and Lola comes to work with me and visits the residents," Cathy said.

"The residents love her. She is responsible for a happy change in the facial expressions and has brought about improved language usage, particularly with the dementia clients.

"They move their joints and limbs more to be with her.

"I ask some residents to look after her for a few minutes and they respond so positively.

"Lola has instilled good vibes into the facility."

Furthermore, she said Lola was "very good" with the people in palliative care.

"She very quietly gets up on the bed alongside of them and instinctively seems to know her role is to lay motionless. It is beautiful to see really", Cathy said.

On a weekly basis, residents get pleasure out of attending "school" with Lola, when Gordon Richards visits to train her further in obedience skills.

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