192938 Strategies to increase health care providers' awareness of the role of the animal/human bond in the health and supportive care of seniors

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lynn Carson, PhD, CHES , Health Department College of Health Science, West Chester University, West Chester, PA
To validate the significant purpose animals serve in the health and supportive care of seniors, this presentation focuses on the development and implementation of a seminar specifically designed for health care providers who are considering introducing animal assisted therapy (AAT) or animal assisted activities (AAA) into their work environments. Companion animals and human health served as a starting point for lectures and discussions. Lectures and discussions focused on the utilization of animals in decreasing depression and social isolation of homebound elderly. Additional content focused on animals in hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation facilities to demonstrate the diversity of service/therapy opportunities. Seminar participants participated in site visits to observe therapeutic riding, therapy dogs in a rehabilitation center and training of service dogs for the disabled. Guest speakers addressed utilization of animals in hospice and search/rescue. Seminar participants took part in discussions with trainers, owners and volunteers to gain understanding on how animals contribute to supportive/therapeutic care for seniors. Seminar participants maintained journals, created AAA/AAT Programs and prepared papers incorporating service/therapy animals into their career plans and work environments. After review of seminar participants' evaluations, outcomes included: (1) greater awareness of the depth and breadth of training needed to prepare animals to provide supportive care for seniors; (2) better understanding of the differences between service, therapy and activity animals; (3) increased respect for the role of volunteers in providing these services; and (4) an understanding of how animals could be incorporated into their careers as health care providers working with senior populations.

Learning Objectives:
identify the role and purpose of animals in the health and supportive care of senior populations. list the benefits of an Animals in Senior Health Seminar for health care providers. describe the process of developing an Animals in Senior Health Seminar for use in in-service training programs for health care providers.

Keywords: Health Workers Training, Special Issues

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: My reseach area is the animal/human bond and health. I have published one peer reviewed article and have completed four presentions on this topic at national and international conferences.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.