A large proportion of our therapy support dogs go into residential care homes, nursing homes, sheltered accommodation and hospices to visit elderly residents, either in communal lounges or similar areas, or in residents’ own rooms, but always with staff supervision. These visits trigger a lot of memories for the people we visit, and we find that the residents enjoy telling us about their own pets that they’ve had.
Volunteer Jill writes:
An important part of the visit is for the residents to be able to stroke and pet the therapy support dogs, and some will insist on feeding them as well; in fact, many of our care homes provide treats for the residents to give the dogs, who are, of course, happy to receive!
The people we visit often have trouble with short term memory, and so we have to tell and retell the same stories, but this isn’t a problem; the people we are visiting are happy to hear about the dogs and what they get up to. What is very clear is that the residents benefit from seeing, touching and feeding the dogs, reminiscing about their own pets, and interacting with our volunteers. Our visits are a happy distraction to many elderly residents, and provide a talking point for when they next have family or other visitors. Not only that, but the staff enjoy seeing the people in their care sharing a happy moment with a happy dog.
Val who is one of our cat assesses and feline advisor writes:
Cat loving care home residents often miss the comfort of stroking a feline friend. That’s where Therapy Support Cats can help. As a visiting volunteer with my therapy support cat, Gabby I’ve witnessed at first hand the pleasure such visits can bring. Residents love seeing the cat and simply watching it exploring their room is pleasure enough for some. They relish each visit and are eager to know when the next one is due. Some residents even arrange for family members to be present when their therapy cat comes to call so that they can share their enjoyment too.
Stroking and interacting with a therapy cat is a pleasurable experience, which often provokes fond memories of much loved pets residents have known in the past. Gabby has an ever increasing fan base and on a recent visit to a new care home we had a warm welcome. Every cat loving resident was keen to ensure they got to spend some time with Gabby.
On one occasion a very elderly blind lady was delighted when Gabby sat on her lap so that she could feel the softness of his fur. I described Gabby to her and related some of his naughty activities when at home and she told me it reminded her of a cat she’d once had.
Therapy support cats bring back fond memories of much loved pets. They also bring out emotions of tenderness and affection and provide a feeling of warmth and comfort to residents. A therapy cat visit can be entertaining and give residents something to look forward to. It can also help isolated residents. Some prefer to stay in their own rooms and not mix with other residents but are happy to enjoy the therapy support cat’s company.