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Culture Change Best Practices:

Integration of Animals

In our transformation from a medical model of care to a social model, we begin to take more aspects of home and incorporate them into the daily rhythm of the long-term care environment. Among the things commonly absent from a medical model home are animals, plants and children.

resident with pet dog

There are nursing homes today that offer the opportunity for elders to be admitted with their pets. In the past, animals were considered a high infection control risk. Today, with proper cleaning systems in place, infection control is no longer a concern. There were also concerns about allergies, falls, and regulatory compliance. All of these issues can be worked through, and with every day farther down the Culture Change path, more and more homes are bringing pets into their environments as a normal, everyday procedure.

Research proves that people who have animals in their lives are happier, healthier, have a lower level of stress and live longer lives. The benefits of having animals in a nursing home far outweigh the risks. If we are truly trying to create a place where we ourselves would want to live, the introduction of pets must seriously be considered.

Every home is unique: some homes have three or four animals that are that home’s pets—effectively they belong to the residents and the staff living and working in the home. Others admit residents with their own pets from home, as long as they are a good match and the residents are able to care for them with minimal staff assistance.