Pet Connect animal interaction programme
To bring the entertaining company and comforting companionship of small friendly animals to people who can no longer have their own pets. For example, if they are living in a care home away from family life and the presence of pets in their lives on a day to day basis.
Working in partnership with Noah’s Art – an animal assisted wellbeing service based in Dukinfield – regular visits to care homes were arranged across Tameside's three target regions.
Tame, people-friendly pets - such as rabbits, guinea pigs and dogs – are now taken out on trips by Noah’s Art team members to meet and greet older people in their own care home environments.
For people who love animals, time spent with furry friends is very beneficial. They are encouraged to groom, feed and stroke their visitors and this gives rise to lots of chats about when they owned their own pets and the adventures they had with them, their special tricks and preferences, and - if they had a dog - where they used to go on walks locally.
In this way, common ground opens up and people find it easier to talk to one another, and make stronger bonds with fellow residents. For some, even just watching the creatures brings lots of joy and creates a focal point of interest for a few hours that can be refrerred to and remembered long after the animals have gone home.
Stroking animals can definitely act as a social connector and increase a sense of wellbeing in both the animal being petted and the person doing the petting.
Additionally, social isolation amongst vulnerable individuals can be significantly increased by encouraging the human/animal bond – and recent research has found that regular interaction with pets increases positive thinking and - because animals live in the present – this is also associated with enhanced mindfulness and relaxation.
More tangible, physical, benefits include increased memory and concentration. Self-care is also influenced for the better. For example, feeding time presents an opportunity to talk about the need for healthy eating in humans, and grooming the animals can give rise to discussions around personal hygiene and habits. Furthermore, supporting animals with health problems can help older people understand the importance of medication in their own day to day lives.
Programmes like this are really vital – they are genuinely helping people to connect with each other as well as with the animals, and to feel less isolated. Having proved to be such a success so far, the Noah’s Art visit programme is set to continue for as long as possible.
To watch a short video about Ambition for Ageing's recent work with Noah's Art, click here
Ambition for Ageing Partnerships Officer
Tel: 0161 339 2345
Mobile: 07825 157 579