‘We have had to be so creative throughout the pandemic, and I think this is another way for us to be creative’
Before the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, Maplewood residents received frequent and meaningful visits from St. John Ambulance therapy dogs and their handlers.
But while restrictions began easing this year and other volunteers started returning to the Brighton long-term care home, Maplewood has been unable to get the pet therapy visits residents enjoyed prior to the pandemic.
In some cases, volunteers have moved away or have retired from volunteering, resulting in a shortage of pet therapy volunteers.
Given the void this has left, Maplewood administrator and life enrichment co-ordinator Rachel Corkery is encouraging the home’s team members to bring their own pets to work to spend time with residents and staff.
In a recent OMNIway story, we told you how Rachel is bringing her new German shepherd puppy, Remington, to work with her on Fridays. She says she hopes others follow suit because having pets in the home is beneficial to residents and staff members.
“I’m hoping that staff will feel open to bringing in their pets, especially if they think it’s an appropriate match that the residents and their fellow staff members would benefit from,” Rachel says.
It’s not just dogs and cats team members can bring, Rachel adds, noting one team member has a bearded dragon.
OMNI Health Care has a visiting pet policy, and any pets brought into the home must meet specific standards and have proof of vaccinations, Rachel notes.
Allowing staff members to bring their pets to spend the day at the home is a three-way symbiotic relationship, Rachel says: a pet, such as a dog, visiting the home pleases residents and staff, and the animal is getting lots of attention as well, she notes.
“It’s hard not to smile to smile when you see a pet, especially something like a little puppy, walking through the home,” she says.
Rachel adds that having team members bring their pets to the home for visits is also an example of thinking outside the box to meet a need for residents and staff.
“We have had to be so creative throughout the pandemic, and I think this is another way for us to be creative.”
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