Connecting with Patients Through Pet Therapy
Does your hospital have a pet therapy program? If not, you may be missing out on an opportunity to divert patients’ attention from their ailment(s) to feelings of joy, support, and encouragement. At ACH, many of the hospitals we work with offer pet therapy programs, and we enjoy keeping up with the many stories that showcase how special animals have brought inspiration and courage to patients and their families, as well as team members. Especially in an inpatient setting at a hospital, nursing home, or assisted living facility, therapy pets can help decrease anxiety and depression related to illness, lower blood pressure, and help lift spirits. Many times, patients don’t realize they need the extra TLC a therapy pet can bring until they are visited by one.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many pet therapy programs were temporarily suspended to protect the health of patients and team members. Now with enhanced screening processes and protocols in place, pet therapy programs at many hospitals and health care organizations have started back up again. In a recent social media post from Lakeland Regional Health, Tucker, a Samoyed breed therapy dog that is well known to the LRH team, was able to visit after being away for quite some time. According to a direct quote from LRH, health care units across the board said, “Wow I really needed this,” “This was the best part of my day,” “Thank you for coming to visit us, Tucker!” This is just one example of how beneficial it can be to have a pet therapy program in place.
Therapy pets, the most common types being dogs, can bring comfort to patients of all ages and are generally well tolerated by many. It’s important to note that all therapy dogs receive proper care and certification, training, and vaccinations prior to joining any type of program at a health care facility. Our partner hospitals and SNF’s always make sure this is a priority.
The volunteers behind their certified therapy pets also benefit from these types of programs. Not only does the act of volunteerism provide many with a sense of community and purpose, but the simple act of bringing a smile to those in painful or stressful situations can do wonders for the volunteer’s self-esteem and overall happiness. In fact, those who volunteer, with pet therapy being just one example, are more likely to have an improved mood, lower anxiety, and less stress. The more we give of our time and talents, the happier we often feel.
At ACH, we are thankful for our pet therapy programs and the volunteers behind them. If you have stories of success with therapy pets and would like to share, please contact us! If you would like more information on how to run a successful pet therapy program and would like to learn from one of our partner organizations on how they run their programs, send us a message and we will be happy to connect you!
Learn More About Advanced Care Hospitalists (ACH)
ACH is a Lakeland-based hospitalist group providing comprehensive patient care in community hospitals across Central Florida. Our providers are highly skilled, board-certified internal medicine specialists who are available around-the-clock to meet the care needs of patients from hospital admission through discharge. Post-discharge from the hospital, we continue overseeing patient care for 30 days.
We’ve found that continued care coordination ensures more accurate medication reconciliation, improved compliance with discharge plans, better scheduling of follow-up visits, and fewer hospital readmissions. Our providers do everything in their power to make sure our patients receive the compassionate and comprehensive care they need to promote healing and prevent a second hospital admission.
For more information about our services and our practice, please contact Advanced Care Hospitalists at 863-816-5884 or fill out a contact form online.