Pets don’t judge or ask questions, they simply provide unconditional love, which is very important to most pet owners and to our residents.
At The Royal Star & Garter Homes we are dedicated to helping each resident live life to the full and regularly invite specially trained animals into our Homes. From snakes and birds to spiders and Crufts champions, our residents find these visitors stimulating and comforting. Many of our residents had their own pets at home and enjoy reminiscing about their former companions.
Pet therapy can be particularly important for people living with dementia, as they can take comfort from the familiar act of stroking an animal. It is soothing and calming, and can make the world of difference.
Dr. William Thomas proposed a theory that related to making nursing homes and assisted living centres more ‘homelike’ and this included the introduction of animals. He said that residents in ‘facilities’ suffered from feeling bored, lonely and helpless, they missed that connection with the outside world. He went on to develop what he referred to as the ‘Eden Alternative’, which looked at introducing children, plants and animals to nursing homes. The introduction of these elements, he proposed, would combat the feelings of loneliness and helplessness, which can be particularly prevalent amongst people living with dementia.
Is Pet Therapy beneficial?
We certainly feel so and at our Solihull Home, we are lucky enough to have a furry feline resident. Biggles is a Ragdoll cat who is approaching his third birthday. When not chasing his tail, he likes to walk around the Home and provides comfort not only to residents with dementia, but the Home as a whole.
Pet therapy has been proven to calm people and stroking pets can lower blood pressure. If a resident feels agitated or confused, a visit from Biggles can be enough to calm them down. Pet therapy can also improve a person’s mood and increase their appetite.
Annette Stockham, Activities & Welfare Manager at Solihull, was responsible for bringing Biggles to the Home and said:
“I have a Ragdoll cat at home and thought that it would be a beneficial addition for our residents. I was delighted when the cat was chosen over other potential animals as they are very self-sufficient and the breed was chosen as Ragdolls are bred to be docile and easy to pick up.”
The benefit that animals can provide has also been seen at our Surbiton Home, with residents enjoying many different visitors over the past year. From four dancing dogs (three of which were former Crufts champions), to the more exotic animals and creepy-crawlies from Impyan Productions. Each visit was met with a positive reaction and residents enjoyed the companionship and fun that the animals brought.
Esther Heerema, MSW. (2017). How Does Pet Therapy Benefit People With Dementia?. Available: https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-does-pet-therapy-benefit-people-with-dementia-98677. Last accessed 30th May 2018.