Staff at a Hastings care home have welcomed two furry visitors into the home to boost the mental wellbeing of its residents through the benefits of pet therapy – marking National Dog Day.
Mountside Care Home, a branch of ACI Care that specialises in residential, respite and dementia care, organised for two Pets as Therapy (PAT) dogs to visit its Laton Road home to bolster resident wellbeing and honour selfless, working dogs on National Dog Day.
The PAT dogs, named Connie and Melly, are regular visitors to the care home and have become firm favourites amongst both residents and staff due to their calm, soothing nature.
Speaking of the furry duo’s visits, resident Vera Tame (89) said: “I love it when the dogs come to visit — they are so friendly and really make me smile. I wish I could give them cuddles all day, but I have to remember that they have lots of people to see as they are working hard.”
Pat Paine (77), former dog owner and resident at Mountside Care Home, added: “I am always pleased to see Connie and Melly as they are such lovely dogs. I used to own a dog, and when it was a puppy, it chewed the arms off our garden bench! These dogs are very well behaved, though.”
There are various emotional and physical benefits of pet therapy for seniors, including increased self-esteem and confidence, improved social skills, and reduced feelings of loneliness.
Discussing the PAT dog visits, Mountside Care Home’s activity coordinator, Shelagh Hazleton, said: “I organise for the PAT dogs to visit the care home as it’s greatly beneficial to the residents. They very much look forward to the dogs’ visits and I’ve noticed that it significantly boosts their mood and overall wellbeing.
“When the dogs were unable to come in due to the Covid-19 lockdowns, the residents told us how much they really missed seeing them. Since restrictions have eased, we have reinstated the visits, with the recent visit on National Dog Day proving to be a huge success.”
Kimberley Mann, fellow activities coordinator at Mountside Care Home, added: “The dogs definitely make a difference, as they improve the mood of the residents, reduce the risk of developing depression, and decrease feelings of anxiety.
“In particular, we have seen that our residents living with dementia greatly benefit from the PAT dog visits — it helps improve their emotional wellbeing and self-esteem whilst encouraging interaction with others.”
Shelagh concluded: “Due to the success of Connie and Melly’s visits, we will continue to look into the benefits of animal therapy. Moving forward, we may introduce more animals into the care home, such as cats or rabbits, to see if this continues to have a positive impact on our residents’ mental and physical wellbeing.”