If it is no longer uncommon to meet animals in institutions for the elderly, then in France it is still not very democratic that employees have the right to bring their companion to the place of work, especially in a medical environment. The animals did have a calming effect, and sometimes even evoked memories in a person with Alzheimer’s disease. The Vesoul Home of Combatants, home to people with Alzheimer’s disease and comorbidities, has been running therapy sessions with pets for several years.
This Thursday, June 9, two residents were met like no one else in the guarded part of the building. Morty, a cross border collie with a Labrador, and Nina Ricci, a female Cavalier of King Charles. Both were accompanied by their mistresses Pascal Girardot and Emily Jardot. Both employees of the institution, they came up with a brilliant idea to offer to bring a companion to the place of work.
Director Miriam Ferty, convinced of the benefits of having animals in the service, agreed without difficulty. “For the first time, two dogs came to us at the same time,” she explains. “We first had to see how they get along with each other and how they react before bringing them to the establishment.”
This “test” seminar should be continued and intervened in addition to animal therapy. “Oh, how beautiful he is,” we hear in the corridor. Marie-Joseph, a resident, immediately went out to meet Nina Ricci. Very quickly, smiles light up on the faces of the inhabitants. The little dog has conquered all the inhabitants and walks from knee to knee to stroke it. “If only I had a dog like that,” another resident slips in, glaring at Morty, the black border collie.
“We even have people whose language is improving”
Medical workers quickly noticed changes in the guests. “You immediately see it in their attitude and the way they interact with the animal, that it makes them feel good,” says the director. “Sometimes we even have people whose language improves. It is important to always connect with what they have experienced. Some tell us that their parents had animals.
break with habits
The opportunity to touch an animal and give it a name creates attachment to the sick person. “It stimulates them and also allows them to break with their habits,” says Nadège Montagnon, the department’s head nurse.
Within a few hours, the residents were able to enjoy the company of these two more than affectionate dogs. “At noon they will help prepare a bowl for them. They become actors and for a day they stop being ‘healers’, they become guardians.”