frequently asked questions

Below are the answers to questions most often asked of us by visitors and the managers of aged-care homes. If you need to know more, please contact us directly via the numbers on the Contact Us page.

f.a.q. for visitors

There is no cost to volunteer visitors to join and participate in the scheme. Visitors will be responsible for transporting themselves and their dog to and from the aged care home.

Your dog must be over twelve months of age and not older than ten years to apply. Once assessed and visiting, a dog older than ten years can continue as a Caring Canine Companion provided it is certified fit and healthy by a vet.

Visitors will need to be eighteen years of age or older.

No, your dog will not need any special training. Temperament is the most important trait. The dog must be friendly, confident, non-aggressive, patient and get along well with both men and women. Obedience training up to level two is greatly encouraged. We will do a hands-on assessment with you and your dog to confirm their suitability.

We will spend time with you and your dog to assess your dog’s temperament and behaviour and how they will react in a variety of situations. Our first assessment will be conducted in a public park where there is some activity. The second assessment will be in an aged care home to check the dog’s reactions to environmental factors such as floor coverings and the presence of wheelchairs and trolleys. For more information please read the Caring Canine Companions Dog Assessment Brochure.

Visits are generally of one hour or less and never more than two hours.  The needs of the residents and your reading your dog’s behaviour will determine the actual duration of a visit. Dogs may need shorter visits to get used to the facility for the first few visits.

We like visitors to commit to visit twenty times or more over a year. Visits would occur weekly or fortnightly and regularly at the same time and day. The actual times will be arranged to occur at a time that is convenient for you and the aged care residents. These regular canine visits are a highlight in the calendar of residents

If you are unable to attend for a regular scheduled visit, we ask you to contact the aged care home staff directly so they can advise residents and prepare alternate activities. If you are unable to visit for a longer period of time, please advise the Caring Canine Co-ordinator or Co-ordinator Assistants.

You can have more than one dog assessed, but for safety and control we ask that you visit with only one dog at a time.  

If the dog has passed the Caring Canine assessment tests and that dog is completely under your control and responsive to you, then yes.

If you have a preference for a particular aged care facility, please let us know when you apply.  We will make every effort to negotiate an arrangement with the facility manager. Otherwise we will match you to an aged care home near to where you live or let you choose one from our list of facilites that have expressed an interest in inviting a visitor.

Once you have completed the induction we will discuss a facility on our waiting list or if you have a specific preferred facility.

Yes, while visiting you will be covered by the public liability insurance held by the Golden Retriever Club of SA Inc. As part of your induction we will arrange for you to sign an insurance declaration.

Yes you will be required to provide a National Police Certificate as a part of the induction process. This will not be any cost to you and we will assist you in the process which is quite straighforward.

Great! If you want to know more or want to join the visiting program, please make contact with us by phone or leave a message on the contact form and we will get back to you. The phone numbers and the contact form are on the  page.

We will provide you with an identification badge which you will need to wear while you are visiting.

You’re encouraged to wear a long or short-sleeved polo top or a vest bearing the Caring Canine Companions logo which we will supply.

For your dog we can provide a jacket, a bandana or a lead bearing the logo.

You can discuss your preferences with your Caring Canine Co-ordinator.

No, senior Australians need social contact even more during these difficult times. We will be doing all we can to support isolated older people while prioritising the health and safety of staff and volunteers.

If an aged care facility is not in lock-down, Caring Canine Companion visitors will comply with the safety rulings in place that apply to friends and family. These include, for example, the wearing of face mask and practising hand hygiene.

Where face-to-face visits are not be possible, for example if the facility is in lock-down, visitors will be able to keep in touch with residents using alternatives such as sending letters and postcards or conducting virtual or phone visits.

More information is provided in the Commonwealth Government’s Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19.

Please contact us to discuss these options.

Any information that you supply to us or that we acquire during the course of your work with Caring Canine Companions will be securely held in accordance with the Commonwealth Goverment’s Australian Privacy Principles.  For more information, please read the Caring Canine Companions Privacy Policy.

f.a.q for aged-care providers

Caring Canine Companions will provide the opportunity for residents of your aged care home to interact freely with a canine visitor and their owner at a regular time on a weekly or fortnightly basis. Typically, canine visitors will visit one or more designated residents on a one-on-one basis, for at least fifteen minutes each.  Alternatively they can meet with groups of residents. The duration of one visit would generally be of one hour or less, and should never be more than two hours, in line with the residents wishes and the dog’s welfare.
Caring Canine Companions staff will discuss with you what is the best arrangement to suit your home and residents.

Yes, here are some studies.

Friedman E, Krause-Parello CA. Companion animals and human health: benefits, challenges, and the road ahead for human-animal interaction. Rev Sci Tech. 2018 Apr;37(1):71-82. doi: 10.20506/rst.37.1.2741. PMID: 30209428.

Friedmann E, Gee NR, Simonsick EM, Studenski S, Resnick B, Barr E, Kitner-Triolo M, Hackney A. Pet Ownership Patterns and Successful Aging Outcomes in Community Dwelling Older Adults. Front Vet Sci. 2020 Jun 25;7:293. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2020.00293. PMID: 32671105; PMCID: PMC7330097.

Klimova B, Toman J, Kuca K. Effectiveness of the dog therapy for patients with dementia – a systematic review. BMC Psychiatry. 2019 Sep 6;19(1):276. doi: 10.1186/s12888-019-2245-x. PMID: 31492131; PMCID: PMC6731615.

Gee NR, Mueller MK, Curl AL. Human-Animal Interaction and Older Adults: An Overview. Front Psychol. 2017;8:1416. Published 2017 Aug 21. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01416

Cherniack EP, Cherniack AR. The benefit of pets and animal-assisted therapy to the health of older individuals. Curr Gerontol Geriatr Res. 2014;2014:623203. doi:10.1155/2014/623203

Olsen C, Pedersen I, Bergland A, Enders-Slegers MJ, Patil G, Ihlebaek C. Effect of animal-assisted interventions on depression, agitation and quality of life in nursing home residents suffering from cognitive impairment or dementia: a cluster randomized controlled trial. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2016 Dec;31(12):1312-1321. doi: 10.1002/gps.4436. Epub 2016 Jan 25. PMID: 26807956.

No, Caring Canine Companion visitors, like all Community Visitor Scheme visitors, should be thought of in the same way as friends or family members visiting to provide companionship. They should not be considered as direct volunteers or staff of aged care services and so will not need any additional training from the aged care service provider. Caring Canine Companions will select, screen and induct visitors and their dogs prior to any visits.

For more information you can visit the Commonwealth Government’s Community Visitors Scheme website.

All visitors will be eighteen years of age or older and be required to undergo a National Police Check prior to any visits. Aged care home administration will be provided with documentation by Caring Canine Companions certifying that this has been completed before any visiting commences. This is done in accordance with Section 13.9 of the >Community Visitors Grant Principles 1997.

Visitors will be trained and prepared for their role and expectations within the aged care environment.

Yes. Potential canine visitors will be selected and then assessed in a two part process that includes a supervised visit to an actual aged care home to to check the dog’s reactions to environmental factors such as floor coverings and the presence of wheelchairs and trolleys and compatibility with residents.

Caring Canine Companions provides visitors with  training and orientation to ensure they can take on their role and are aware of their responsibilities. Their preparation includes:
  • an overview of the purpose of the Community Visitors Scheme

  • an overview of the aged care system

  • the role of visitors under the Community Visitors Scheme

  • the rights of visitors and care recipients

  • duty of care

  • loss and grief

  • administration requirements associated with being a visitor

  • the visitor code of conduct

  • and occupational health and safety issues.

Prospective canine visitors’ dogs are assessed by a qualified animal assessor to determine their suitability as therapy dogs.

Yes. Subject to the availability of visitors, we are happy to discuss providing more than one visitor, especially for larger homes.

Yes, we will neogiate a mutually suitable time for visits with the visitor and the facility managment. Ideally, visits will be scheduled weekly or fortnightly at the same day and time. 

Yes, visitors will be covered under public liability insurance held by the Golden Retriever Club of SA Inc.

There is no cost to your facility.  Caring Canine Companions is fully funded under the Commonwealth Goverment’s Community Visitors Scheme.

You can contact our staff to discuss organising a visit your aged care home via the phone numbers or the contact form on the Contact Us page.

No, senior Australians need social contact even more during these difficult times. We will do all we can to support isolated older people while prioritising the health and safety of residents, staff and volunteers.

If your facility is not in lock-down, Caring Canine Companion visitors will comply with the same safety rulings you put in place applying to friends and family. These include, for example, the wearing of face mask and practising hand hygiene.

Where face-to-face visits are not be possible, visitors may be able to keep in touch with residents using alternatives such as sending letters and postcards or conducting virtual or phone visits.

Please contact us to discuss these options.

More guidance is provided in the Commonwealth Government’s Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19.