Pet Pals Therapy has been busily introducing residents at RMBI Care Co in Home Barford Court to a variety of new, four legged friends.
The therapy group have visited the carehome regularly over the last year, bringing rabbits, chickens, cats and other well, behaved friendly pets and allowing them to interact with residents.
The visits, staff say, have had a profound effect on the residents themselves.
Residents with dementia have found the pets spark memories and reminiscence, and other guests have enjoyed the therapeutic effects of interacting with animals.
Studies have shown that having something to touch- like a four legged friend- can result in lower blood pressure, normal heart rate and reduced stress. Pets also help ease the effects of anxiety and depression, providing emotional stability in stressful situations.
Talking about the visits, Gemma Wheelhouse, Activities Coordinator at RMBI Home Barford Court said: “The animal visits mean the world to our residents. They put a smile on everyone’s faces. The effect of these regular visits on our residents’ mental health and wellbeing is quite profound. In particular, for our residents with advanced dementia, we see a real transformation when the animals visit – they are so calming.”
Different pets also have different therapeutic effects, as Beck Wigmore, owner of Pets Therapy, which specialises in animal therapy for older people, made clear: “All the animals create different therapeutic outcomes. So, a rabbit will have a very calming effect and provide an intimate, soothing experience. While a chicken will bring energy and be much more of a talking point among residents, prompting conversation and memories.
RMBI Care Co in Home Barford Court is run by the RMBI Care Co, Part of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. For more information, visit their website.