Man’s best friend supports well-being
Ensuring those in our care have access to a variety of educational, vocational, sporting, religious, cultural, and instructive programs is vital to supporting their well-being. Our team members are always looking for new ways to engage people in programs and activities that support a positive experience while in our care.
Attention from a dog can brighten someone’s day and has been scientifically proven to improve overall health and well being, and Serco has seen success with similar programs in the past. Through a unique partnership with Assistance Dogs Australia, Serco delivered the Pups in Prison program at Southern Queensland Correction Centre (SQCC) for over ten years, which saw prisoners train puppies to help those in the community with special needs. More than 40 pups were trained by prisoners and provided to people in the community who needed their vital support.
An independent social impact assessment conducted by research firm Huber Social in 2020 found prisoners who participated in Serco’s Pups in Prison program had greater rehabilitation and well-being outcomes. Prisoner puppy trainers experienced a range of positive outcomes through the program, including a 94 per cent increase in overall well-being, a 32 per cent improvement in confidence and self-esteem, and a 25 per cent improvement in mental wellness. The research also showed that recipients of the dogs trained at SQCC experienced a 148 per cent improvement in relationship skills and a 224 per cent improvement in mental health.
This is what inspired Serco Welfare Manager, Magda to explore how man’s best friend could have an impact on those in our care and team members working at one of our facilities in Adelaide.
Pooches from Delta Therapy Dogs – a national not-for-profit organisation that helps animals and people bring joy to each other – now visit the facility fortnightly to engage with both team members and those in our care. The team at Delta believe that the human-animal bond improves quality of life and the benefits at the centre are already being realised.
Therapy animals have a positive impact on social, emotional, physical, and physiological health, improving quality of life and well-being. They can teach empathy and appropriate interpersonal skills, help individuals develop social skills, lower stress levels, decrease anxiety, and dramatically increase positive mood. This has certainly been the case in Adelaide and it is hoped that through regular visits from Delta Dogs, those in our care will see this as a valuable tool to assist them.
It is easy to take the companionship of a dog for granted, so the interaction with these therapy dogs onsite promotes a sense of normalcy for people in detention who have not had this opportunity for some time. Those in our care and our team at Adelaide now look forward to visits from Delta’s therapy dogs each fortnight.