Pets at Home

Paula du Rand, Manager, Kineton Manor Nursing Home

It was 12 years ago when a distressed and tearful lady asked me to admit her husband into the nursing home. She told me that her husband had dementia and she was very worried what would happen to his much loved dog. During my pre-admission assessment of the gentleman I realised that he and his lovely white dog, Scotty, were inseparable. Scotty was also a rather mature gentleman and I told the prospective resident that he could bring his beloved Scotty with him.  I can still remember how he smiled when I gave him this news and he was then quite happy to be admitted into the home.

Literature indicates the positive effect of pets in people’s lives – for example to reduce loneliness and to relieve anxiety and depression (CLH Healthcare, August 2018). For me personally, in my own family, our cats provide not only unconditional love but also companionship. I do not want, at any time, to say goodbye to my dearest cats. With this in mind, how can I therefore expect a prospective resident to say goodbye to their pets?

The admission of Scotty really caused an uproar in the nursing home!  There were all sorts of questions I had to explain to my colleagues and especially to the proprietors of the home. However it was exciting and a first for the home since it opened in 1988.

Policies and procedures were put in place together with aspects such as risk assessments, feeding times and dog walking. The care of the pet depends on the capabilities of the resident. Scotty brought forth the start of another aspect of caring for residents. He was the first and opened the door for other pets. We now have 5 cats in total (2 of which live in residents’ rooms) and one dog who lives with the resident in their room.  We have had up to three dogs at any one time in recent years. At our recent CQC Inspection the inspectors were impressed that we go the extra mile to accommodate the needs of our residents as well as take good care of their pets, which is also included in the resident’s care plan.

For us a pet friendly nursing home does not just mean a fish tank, budgies or chickens in the garden, it means accommodating a resident with a pet in their room.

The question is what happens when a resident dies. Again I have a success story in this respect.  So far two cats have been taken on by new residents and both cats and residents are extremely happy! The Cinnamon Trust is a charity that specialises in looking after older people and their pets. Volunteers from the trust have supported us with dog walking.  The Blue Cross is another charity which can help to look after the welfare of a pet and to give guidance on re-homing.

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