Caring Canines Come to Long-Term Care Facilities

From the annual meeting of the American Medical Directors Association

One of the canine stars at a press conference intended to promote doggie visits to nursing homes made an inauspicious entrance by piddling in excitement. 

Once that was out of the way, though, poodles Tessa and Sophie escorted owner Dr. Karl Steinberg through the San Diego Convention Center to meet the press. Dr. Steinberg, medical director of long-term care facilities near San Diego, brings the dogs to work with him as he visits 15 different facilities. 

Sophie (left), Tessa (center) and Dr. Steinberg visit a nursing home resident. Photo courtesy of Caring for the Ages.

He and two other nursing home medical directors described the joy of bringing their dogs to work — and the joy that the dogs bring to nursing home residents. Several of them were profiled recently in the Association’s newspaper, Caring for the Ages, and I interviewed some of the happy dog-owning doctors at the meeting. 

Besides dogs accompanying medical directors to nursing homes, some organizations like Love on a Leash (the Foundation for Pet Provided Therapy) can arrange pet visits to long-term care residents and other settings, Dr. Steinberg noted. Although a recent study suggested that the fur and paws of therapy dogs could pass methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile among humans, the evidence is not strong enough to deny nursing home residents and staff the psychological benefits of pet therapy, the medical directors said. 

Dr. Christopher Patterson's dog Larry is featured in the Caring Canines calendar. Photo by Sherry Boschert.

The main purpose of the press conference, though, was to let people know they can see happy therapy dogs at work every day by purchasing the Caring Canines calendar, a fund-raising project that benefits research and education in long-term care through the AMDA Foundation. 

It’s one way to share the love — without having to clean up any messes. 

— Sherry Boschert (@sherryboschert on Twitter)
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Filed under Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Geriatric Medicine, Hospice and Palliative Care, IMNG

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