The benefits of dog therapy and how it plays an important role at our Tyne Grange care home in Newcastle
25 August 2021
Dogs, amongst many other animals, have long been companions of people of all ages. Dogs are well known for combatting loneliness, boosting activity levels, reducing stress and depression and unlocking memories.
This International Dog Day, we hear from Physiotherapist, Helen, who works at our Tyne Grange care home in Newcastle upon Tyne, about how dog therapy benefits the people, who are living with complex needs, that live there.
“Indie has been coming to Tyne Grange every Friday since the home first opened in 2020, when she was around seven months old.
“It's brilliant having Indie at the home - she really lifts the mood and brings so much energy and excitement to the home.
“When she was a puppy I would make sure that she spent time with each service user, just having cuddles and playing with toys so she became familiar with them all (and vice versa).
“As she's grown (she’s now 18 months!) and everyone has got used to Indie being around, she's become quite the favourite - service users ask about her all the time and look forward to Fridays for ‘Indie cuddles’.
Increasing social interaction at the ‘dog café’
“Most Fridays we do a 'dog cafe' where all service users come down to our communal area and Indie (and sometimes Bella – our Home Manager’s dog) will be there to play with. This increases social interaction between service users and puts a smile on everyone's face.
“The service users enjoy going out and buying treats and toys for her and will practice training her with tricks.
“Our more mobile service users come with me to take her for walks on Fridays, which is great for additional exercise.
Improving emotional wellbeing
“One particular service user here has Korsakoffs Syndrome and has expressive dysphasia, which means that she struggles with communication and finding the right word to use - but as soon as she sees Indie, she gets on the floor with her to play and is able to communicate using appropriate words - she will say things like "beautiful doggy" and "lovely puppy", which always takes us all by surprise.
“Another service user waits in bed for Indie to wake her up on a Friday morning - Indie will jump on the bed with Linda and wake her up with licks and cuddles. Linda's face will just light up; it's her favourite wake up call!
Boosting activity levels
“Indie also takes part in the Pilates sessions that I run, which make everyone laugh when she’s crawling under arms and licking faces.
“She also helps to encourage more outdoor activities; sometimes just playing in the garden or longer walks down to the local park. She brings people together and acts as a buffer for conversation and social interaction between service users who will laugh together at Indie's 'zoomies' or her performing her tricks.
“She's can also be a calming influence for some service users when she has 'quiet time', she will sit on the sofa with people and just lie they being stroked and cuddles. This can be really calming for service users if they're feeling anxious or overwhelmed.”
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