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The Power of Pets during COVID-19 (Last update: 27.07.20)
So, I became a first-time fosterer for a rescue dog from Romania this week and what a joy she is!
In amongst the chaos of training that comes with orientating a puppy to every sight, sound, stimulant and introduction to my other dogs, there are the moments of pure calm, where stroking and petting really helps me to box away my fears and worries and just focus on the simple things in life, like mutual trust, bonding and appreciation. Having grown up with animals around me, I think I would really struggle to cope without an animal being in my life ever.
I am not alone, it is thought that 41% of adults own a pet in the UK, and we have a duty, therefore, to appreciate how individuals in our care may be missing, or missing out on the precious gift of time with animals, that evidence proves beneficial for increasing physical activity and reducing blood pressure, improving perceptions of pain, stress levels, and mood as well as combatting loneliness and providing a sense of purpose.
During this pandemic, the challenge of accessing ‘animal’ visitors can make it all the more difficult, so as a service what can you do?
- Many animal petting visitor companies can accommodate successful outside visits adhering fully to social distancing requirements as well as providing digital and virtual alternatives. It is worth checking with your local provider to see how a visit can be achieved
- Ensure that the activities planner you have available includes activities that relate to animals, there is also plenty of opportunity for reminiscence with residents about previous pets they may have had
The College of Occupational Therapists, Living well through activity in care homes: the toolkit offers some great ideas as to how to incorporate activities around the theme of animals.
- As homes start to consider reopening to visitors, there is the opportunity for outside visits with pets of loved ones, however, this must be pre agreed with the manager and in line with each individual risk assessment and your company policy on reopening to visitors
According to the PDSA, It is known that over 7000 care homes accept pets to residents moving into homes, so a large proportion of services will have resident animals already. As a service it is imperative that a policy is in place that supports accommodation of pets and pet visitors as the benefits to resident wellbeing are known, but this must be balanced with the health and safety of residents and staff and the welfare of the animal.
During COVID-19, it is important that services also take into account Government advice relating to accessing the Vet and good infection control practice when caring for animals.
QCS have a policy in place that includes a care plan and risk assessment for use when considering supporting pets or visiting animals in the service.
So back to the puppy training I go and a mission to make those forever memories of happy times in canine splendour……. What next, I wonder? Maybe chickens…… watch this space.
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