Animal Therapy in a Hospice Home

Contributed by Felicia Schafer, Executive Director, OSF Richard L. Owens Hospice Home 

According to Mayo Clinic, animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help patients recover from or better cope with acute and chronic health problems, such as heart disease, respiratory disease, cancer, and mental health disorders.

Animal-assisted therapy can significantly reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue in people with a range of health problems:

  • Children having dental procedures
  • People with cancer
  • People in long-term care facilities
  • People hospitalized with chronic heart failure
  • Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder

Animal Therapy in the OSF Hospice Home

There are currently four pet companions volunteering their time at the OSF Richard L. Owens Hospice Home. These pets are at the home five days a week.

Along with their owners, Bailey, Boggs, Bria, and Sir William have gone through a training program and take turns offering patients and families love and companionship. If our patients or guests have allergies or prefer not to be around animals, we will restrict them from that patient’s room.

In addition to helping care for our patients, our wonderful OSF Hospice Home pet companions are also involved with caring for our patients’ families. They provide comfort, play, and positive distraction for our families. They are a warm, cuddly friend that loves to be involved with caring for those we serve.

Are pets of patients allowed to visit the OSF Hospice Home?

We do allow visits from most family pets. This visit must be scheduled in advance and coordinated with the nursing staff. These pets must be on a leash and are only allowed in the room of the person they are visiting.

It is required that a form be filled out indicating the pet is current on their vaccinations and they must be clean and groomed prior to their visit to the Home. Some animals will not be allowed to visit based on their size or species.

We do not allow snakes, rodents and similar species to visit because of the risk to others.

About Author: Michael Vujovich

An OSF Mission Partner for over a decade, Director of Digital Marketing Michael Vujovich describes himself as a “photo-taking, guitar-playing, web-designing, house-remodeling, cat-loving Star Wars geek.”

As Director of Digital Marketing he oversees a team of digital marketing experts who help manage web, social media and digital advertising strategies for the entire OSF Ministry.

Mike earned his Bachelor of Science in Multimedia from Bradley University in 2007 and a Master of Science in Health Administration from the University of St. Francis in 2014.

In his spare time, Mike enjoys teaching web design at his alma mater, Bradley University, in Peoria and spending time with his wife and their three “fur children”: Marie, Sookie and Bella.

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Categories: Mental Health, Palliative Care & Hospice

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