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Pets provide the best dementia care

Cramlington House and West Farm Care Centre are care homes based in the North East of England, owned and managed by specialist care provider Craig Healthcare. Both homes have a specific dementia care focus, where providing personalised care of the highest quality is the priority.

Animal therapy plays a key part in the care provided within Cramlington House and West Farm Care Centre. Residents living with dementia have a range of different needs and it’s vital specifically designed wellbeing programmes are put in place to ensure each resident receives the care they need.

This includes proactive animal-assisted care initiatives that provide significant benefits including improved mood and overall wellbeing, increased social interaction, decreased feelings of anxiety and sadness, lower blood pressure levels and positive effects on challenging behaviour such as agitation and aggression.

Research shows that regular interaction with animals is a key dementia intervention within care that can improve the overall wellbeing of residents. Evidence shows that even the most solitary and sedentary residents have shown distinct improvements during the time specific pets have been present.

Lucy Craig, Managing Director at Craig Healthcare, said: “Animals play such an important part in residents’ lives day in, day out. At Cramlington House, we keep pet rabbits, Jack and Irene, who have such a positive impact. One resident in particular has responded incredibly well to the rabbits, developing a close bond with them and spending time caring for them, which has genuinely made him more relaxed and happier.”

Recently, a blind Shetland pony came to meet several residents living with dementia, including those who struggle to communicate and interact. Smurf definitely held an engaged and responsive audience, with residents able to stroke, pet and speak to him which really helped to bring them out of their shell.

Lucy explained: “It was amazing to watch the effect Smurf had on the residents. His presence, demeanour and interaction really did lift their spirits, encouraged them to engage with others and created a lovely atmosphere within the home long after Smurf left.”

Craig Healthcare’s dementia specialist homes also receive weekly visits from dementia friendly dogs who are brought in by specially trained carers to meet and greet residents and spend time with them, as well as visits from non- traditional pets such as lizards, snakes, spiders.

Lucy added: “Interaction with a range of animals, we find, massively boosts the confidence, self-esteem and social skills of those residents living with dementia. Animal therapy is underutilised across the care home sector, which makes us even more determined to demonstrate the important role in plays, especially in dementia care, and its many benefits. Aside from the many physical and mental benefits, animals-assisted therapy also helps to indulge in old memories – most of our residents have owned a pet in their lifetime – and create new ones from the visits and interactions with the animals we bring into our homes, which is vital to do in dementia care provision.”

For more information about the bespoke dementia care Craig Healthcare provides, please contact Emma Jones on emma@cramlington-house.co.uk  or call 01670 591 930.

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