Connie Coll reflects on year volunteering at Springdale with her cat, Hero

Therapeutic Paws of Canada volunteer Connie Coll and her cat, Hero, are pictured here during a recent visit to Springdale Country Manor.

She says working with residents has reinforced the value pet therapy brings to people living in LTC homes

SPRINGVILLE, Ont. – Connie Coll says the support she and her cat, Hero, have received from Springdale Country Manor has been “wonderful” since the duo began volunteering at the Peterborough County long-term care home 15 months ago.

Volunteers with Therapeutic Paws of Canada, Connie and Hero visit Springdale Country Manor residents weekly. Hero, a Russian-born retired show cat, sits in his stroller on a leash while Connie takes him around the home to visit residents. On any given day, Connie and Hero may visit with more than 20 people.

“The home is really supportive, and the staff is helpful in any way they can be, and the residents just love Hero,” Connie tells The OMNIway. “They look forward to his visit every week.”

Even before she and Hero began volunteering at Springdale Country Manor in January 2017, Connie knew about the benefits animals have on residents. She worked as a nurse in long-term care and had seen the positive impact animals had on people.

Seeing residents smile and laugh when they hold Hero reinforces what she already knew, Connie says.

“It is remarkable that I get to see the smiles every single time I visit; the residents respond so positively to an animal,” Connie says.

Connie notes that sometimes residents have to give up their pets when they move into a long-term care home. Moving into long-term care is a major transition for people, and not being able to have their pet living with them can add to the challenge. So being able to have visits from a cat or dog can make a big difference to people, Connie says.

“This provides them to have opportunities for hugs, snuggles and petting,” she says.

April 15-21 is National Volunteer Week 2018. The week is marked by events nationwide that celebrate volunteers and all they do to enrich the lives of others. This year marks the 77th National Volunteer Week.

Anyone interested in volunteering at an OMNI Health Care long-term care home can call 1-705-748-6631 for more information.

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