Sunday, February 21, 2010

One-on-One Animal Assisted Therapy

Guest blogger Paul Westerfield is back with a post about Nana the Newfoundland's work as a therapy dog in an elder-care community.

Resident Goals: improve upper body strength, range of motion and improve socialization.

Week One
Introduced Nana to the resident; had the resident brush Nana to improve range of motion. Nana then pulled the resident in his wheel chair around the skilled nursing unit. There the resident introduced Nana to other residents while improving his upper body strength.

Week Two
Resident participated in a dog scavenger hunt. Resident was taken through the health centers via dog power while looking for a trail of paw prints and answering questions that were found along the way. All questions were dog related and dealt with the resident’s personal history. The resident then went to different areas of the health centers to introduce the dog to other residents.

Week Three
Nana was running late on this day. Upon arrival, we found the resident anxious and ready to go. He said he wanted to introduce Nana around the whole building. Nana pulled him throughout all areas of the complex. Total time and distance: 45 minutes and about a mile. Nana stopped along the way to meet people, creating an environment where the resident had to interact with others.

Week Four
Upon arriving at the resident’s room, he stated that he did not want to participate on this day because he was not feeling well. We convinced him to go out for just a short time. Nana once again pulled him throughout the building, stopping and visiting with other residents. We then went to a room that had been set up with traffic cones for working the Nana. The resident directed her in and out of the cones, telling her which way to turn. He learned the commands to tell Nana to start, stop, turn right, turn left and turn around. After about an hour Nana returned him to his room. He stated that he was glad he had gone and he was feeling much better.

The resident has been talking about his activities with his occupational and physical therapists, as well as other residents. He has made it known that he enjoys his Nana time and always looks forward to his workout. A second resident has inquired about participation in the program. Starting in week 5 we will have Denali (the bronze Newfoundland) working with the new resident.

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