Animals/pets in care homes may sound a little strange, but the positive impact they can have on the wellbeing of residents is most certainly not to be sniffed at (excuse me). Interaction between the animals and residents stimulates senses, lifts mood and encourages activity.
TheraPaws is an animal therapy service for the elderly delivered by The Mayhew Animal Home. The Mayhew is an animal welfare charity in London that identifies, rescues and re-homes dogs and cats that have been the subject of neglect, abuse and/or abandonment.
Volunteers take dogs from the charity's re-homing centre to visit care settings across the North and West of London. The TheraPaws scheme aims to encourage social interaction amongst the elderly in view of promoting emotional and physical wellbeing. The charity pays visits to people with dementia and to palliative care centres as well as visits to care homes, day centres and hospices across the region.
The benefits of animal therapy
The TheraPaws scheme benefits all those involved. The re-homed animals experience human kindness and care whilst the residents benefit from the attention and the interaction with the animals, carers and volunteers. The key benefits of animal therapy include:
- The affection between residents, carers and animals reduces stress, loneliness and even illness.
- Social interaction encourages greater engagement with other activities in the care home.
- Persons with dementia rediscover memories and emotions as a result of interaction with the animals.
- Residents also develop a greater understanding of their carers and The Mayhew's volunteers
Persons in the North West London region are able to participate in the scheme by volunteering to go on the care home visits with their dogs. To find out more, visit The Mayhew's website.
Video Overview (3:09)
The Mayhew Animal Home have produced a video that shows the TheraPaws scheme in action. Discover the remarkable benefits of animal therapy in this short video: