Animals provide right kind of therapy in long-term care

Residents enjoy visits from pets, farm animals

From the tail-wagging to the unconditional love, animals are providing comfort and stirring fond memories for OMNI Health Care’s long-term care residents.

From the Bassett Hound who frequents Frost Manor in Lindsay to the visit from a travelling zoo and its handler in Cobourg, the interaction with animals is being well-received.

Many Streamway Villa residents are from agricultural backgrounds, so being able to see, touch and interact with an array of animals in the courtyard of the Cobourg long-term care home proved to be the perfect way to get them reminiscing recently.

The folks from Kristie’s Little Portable Petting Zoo, a travelling animal handler based in Prince Edward County, made what has become an annual visit to Streamway Villa on June 15.

“It’s the memories,” handler Kristie Istead tells The OMNIway. “We had one lady last year (at Streamway Villa) and she had a rabbit sitting on her lap for an hour and a half. She was talking about how her beau used to raise rabbits and little things like that. There was a gentleman here who used to raise about 2,000 chickens at a time, so he could tell you all about chickens.

“It brings the residents happiness; it’s a lot of fun for them.”

A pony, rabbit, a pair of Sebastopol geese, goats, lambs, chickens and an alpaca, were among the animals who were at the Cobourg long-term care home.

At Frost Manor, Bill Dopson, and Tracker, a St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog, have been volunteering at the Lindsay long-term care home for about two years.

“I thought he would be good at that because he’s so laid back and I’ve got the time,” says Bill, a retired policeman.
“I thought it would be good for him and it would sure be good for the people in there, so it’s a win-win-win. He enjoys doing it and I enjoy doing it because I get to meet so many people.”

Frost Manor life enrichment co-ordinator Lyndsay Burton says Tracker is especially good with residents during the one-on-one visits he does with Bill.

She notes many residents had dogs before moving into Frost Manor, so Tracker brings back fond memories.

“The residents immediately connect with Tracker; he’s our own little in-house celebrity dog,” Lyndsay says.
“They look for Tracker when he’s in, and there’s a few of them that wait around to see Tracker. He is a familiar friend and a friend of the home.”

As well as being companions, pets provide significant health benefits to their owners, according to articles on the topic of pet therapy.

Research indicates that pet owners are healthier, less stressed and happier. For residents in long-term care, regular exposure to animals can be the next best thing to pet ownership.

Click here to read more about the benefits of pet therapy in long-term care.

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