In August 2017 Parkview care home in Bexleyheath, was visited by Nightingale dogs, a company that specialise in therapeutic dog activities for people living with dementia.
When the dogs arrived in the home there was an instant positive reaction from residents who automatically engaged with the dogs which in turn stimulated conversations with each other.
It was during this day that conversations between staff and residents took place about the idea of having a pet dog join the home.
Rosie is a Jack Russell and belongs to Parkview’s’ Activity Coordinator Jo Thompson. Jo was looking to rehome Rosie as her husband had changed jobs, which meant leaving Rosie on her own at home for longer periods.
Jo had previously brought Rosie into Parkview a few times and was always welcomed by residents who would feed and stroke her. Before looking to rehome Rosie, Home Manager, Pat Collis, explored ideas with some of the residents on how Rosie could become part of the family at Parkview.
Pat Collis, Home Manager, said ‘We have a few pets at the home including cats, goldfish and guinea pigs and we were all really keen to introduce another pet to join the family. When Jo
started to bring Rosie into the home she was so popular with our residents it made sense to see if we could look at other options with this. Rosie is now part of the Parkview family and visits during the day and goes home with Jo after each shift, which works really well and the residents love her’.
Researchers have long suggested that pets are good for us even offering health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and heart rate, reducing the stress hormone cortisol, and boosting levels of the feel-good hormone, serotonin.
Anyone who owns a cat or dog can attest to the beauty of their unconditional love, and animals often forge a special connection with people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. While companionship is an obvious benefit, a well-timed pet visit may also help with anxiety and depression.*
Nine months on and Rosie is now very settled at Parkview and is often seen running off to her favourite resident’s rooms upon her arrival in the morning.
Not only has Rosie become a loyal friend to many residents but she is also a great form of exercise as she needs daily walks. Some residents who haven’t been so keen to leave the home before are now seen walking with Rosie and staff to the local park in Bexleyheath.
*Reserch taken from Alzheimers.net