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.
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.
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.