The Grande Prairie Palliative Care Society (GPPCS) is recruiting pets for their pet visitation program. 

Dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters and their owners are all needed as volunteers for the society’s pet visitation program.

“The visitor who owns the animal can also be like a friendly visitor to the patients,” said Kristen Yaceyko, GPPCS director. 

The GPPCS has been hosting different programs for hospice patients and their families for about 30 years.  

The pet visitation program is one of the many programs that bring comfort to people.

Yaceyko says animal visitations were challenging to do for a while due to the pandemic, but now, they hope to bring it back.

“It was a huge support for the families there and even for the patients just to bring a little bit of happiness to life,” she said. 

She said the society co-ordinates with nurses so that pets can come to visit people at the hospice in Grande Prairie, and then it allows people to visit with animals and have a friendly visit with their owners. 

Once someone has registered to be a volunteer, they will meet with the society’s volunteer co-ordinator, who can go over what it’s like to go into a hospice space. 

The co-ordinator also meets the animals, ensuring they are comfortable meeting new strangers. 

“We’re looking for animals that are vaccinated, friendly, and obviously that our bathroom trained and all that kind of stuff,” said Yaceyko.

She said the time commitment required from volunteers is flexible, saying even an hour a month is helpful. 

People who do not have pets are also welcome to volunteer for the society as friendly visitors.

“Friendly visitor, that’s just somebody who goes in and sits with some of these patients and the family and just visits them, makes their day a little bit more joyful and gets rid of the boredom,” said Yaceyko.

She also noted they are looking for professionals such as massage therapists or musicians to volunteer even an hour or two a month.

She noted the hospice has a piano that is “begging to be played” or people can sing or bring their guitars. 

“The families and the patients there and even the medical care team can enjoy a little bit of musical therapy.”

Those who are interested in volunteering or want more information can visit gpcare.ca and visit the volunteer tab or call 780-897-0066.

By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 29, 2024 at 09:20

This item reprinted with permission from   Town & Country News   Beaverlodge, Alberta

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