Paws for Patients, a canine therapy program from the Barnabas Health Hospice and Palliative Care Center, is launching training sessions for new volunteers. The program is designed for dog owners interested in visiting hospice patients and families with their dogs. Currently, volunteers are needed to visit patients in Monmouth County.
In order to participate in the “Paws” program, a dog owner must complete the four-session training program and his dog must complete, and pass, a therapy dog qualification evaluation administered by a recognized pet therapy organization. Each volunteer team will be assigned to patients who live in close proximity to the volunteer’s town of residence.
The training program is designed to give new volunteers insight into the needs and challenges of patients and families who are coping with advanced illness.
The training is being offered at the Barnabas Health Hospice and Palliative Care Center in West Orange as follows on February 29, from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., with following sessions on March 5, March 12 and March 21.
“The therapeutic use of dogs in health care settings has been proven to help orient patients, especially those with dementia, to the present moment,” explains Lorraine Sciara, FACHE, Executive Director, Barnabas Health Hospice and Palliative Care Center. “Dogs increase relaxation, reduce feelings of isolation and even lower blood pressure in patients. We are pleased to be able to offer this wonderful new program to our patients and families.”
To register or for more information, please contact Laurie Berkman, Paws for Patients Program Coordinator, at 973-322-4800 or by e-mail.