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Working with the Elderly – TheraPaws

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What is TheraPaws?

TheraPaws is a visiting pet therapy programme delivered by The Mayhew Animal Home. We recognise the benefits of taking animals into the care setting to engage with the elderly, encouraging social interaction to promote emotional and physical wellbeing. We specialise in visits to people with dementia and to palliative care centres. Our volunteers and their dogs go on regular visits to care homes, day centres, hospices and hospitals across North and West London.

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The benefits of TheraPaws

  • Social interaction and companionship
  • Emotional and physical well-being through stress reduction and affection
  • Unlocking memories and emotions for those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s
  • Building relationships between our volunteers and the residents

Volunteer on TheraPaws with your dog

We rely on volunteers and their dogs to carry out the TheraPaws visit, so thank you for thinking about joining this wonderful programme. Please read on to see if you and your dog have what it takes to be a TheraPaws volunteer.


  • Be able to make a regular commitment to a centre in North and West London area.
  • Available for regular visits (weekly/fortnightly) usually lasting between 60 – 90 minutes depending on the energy of the dog.
  • Engage with the people you meet in the homes/hospitals/centres using your own dog.
  • Be reflective of your observations whilst on the TheraPaws visits in terms of changes in behaviour of the residents and report on each visit to the Project Manager.
  • Must be willing to undergo a DBS check.
  • We ask for a commitment of at least 6 months.

Your dog

  • Does your dog have a calm temperament?
  • Can you walk your dog on the lead without pulling?
  • Your dog does not jump up, bark, paw, lick excessively?
  • Does your dog react positively to meeting strangers (wants to interact and doesn’t jump up or bark at them)?
  • Could a stranger touch your dog’s ears, tail, paws, head and body without the dog getting worried?
  • Does your dog take food gently from your hand?
  • Does your dog recover quickly from loud noises?
  • Do you (the owner) have good control over your dog?
  • Can you groom the dog all over?
  • Would you be able to move your dog quickly out the way (in case of emergency taking place in a centre)?
  • Has your dog been neutered (essential for TheraPaws)?
  • Is your dog generally fit and healthy?
  • Is your dog at least a year old and been with you for 6 months or more?
Role description

Responsible to: Therapaws Project Manager (TPM).

Through ‘TheraPaws’ (an initiative of The Mayhew Animal Home (TMAH)) we visit elderly care homes, residential homes, community day centres and palliative care units with volunteers and their dogs to stimulate and interact with the residents and service users, many of whom are living with conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and depression. The visits are done at an agreed regular period and usually last between 60 – 90 minutes depending on the energy of the dog.

Main objectives:

    • To deliver TheraPaws visits to residential care homes and any other venues.
    • To engage with the people you meet in the homes/hospitals/centres using your own dog.
    • Be reflective of your observations whilst on the TheraPaws visits in terms of changes in behaviour of the residents.
    • Promote good animal welfare at all times.
    • Exercise good time keeping in line with guidelines of the TPM.
    • Cooperate with the centre staff when conducting the TheraPaws visit.
    • Must be willing to undergo a DBS check.

Main duties

  • Attending relevant training provided by the TMAH & training signposted by TPM.
  • Provide reflective, feedback at the end of each visit.

We welcome & encourage applications from people of all ages (18+) & backgrounds.

If you have any concerns about the points mentioned above then please feel free to contact the TheraPaws Project Manager, Luke Berman at 020 8962 8004 or send him an email

If your application is successful we will invite you to The Mayhew Animal Home for an interview and put your dog through the TheraPaws dog assessment after which you will need to attend the half day TheraPaws induction/training. The whole process can take up to three months from filling in the application form to walking through the doors for your first visit.

Request a TheraPaws visit

If you would like to request a visit please fill out the form below. Please note we carry out visits with dogs and focus on older people, particularly with dementia, in North and West London and due to volunteer availability we cannot guarantee that visits will be possible. However, we will always try to accommodate visits where possible.

TheraPaws request form
  • For how many people do you provide care? Any conditions they may have?


If you have any questions please contact the TheraPaws Project Manager Luke Berman at 020 8962 8004 or send him an email.

Sophie with Marley at The Meadows..


For existing TheraPaws volunteers

Fill in a volunteer feedback form

  • 1 being poor, 5 being excellent.
  • i.e. spoke to about the animal/showed an interest in the animal/watched from afar. Please don't include staff, volunteers or visitors.
    Please enter a value between 1 and 1000.
  • Reactions of residents/patients to dogs, comments made. Mood (positive/negative behaviours). How did the dog find the visit – i.e. more tired than usual, not wanting to interact, over excited.
  • Support by centre staff, affect it has on you, your enjoyment of the visit, what difference you think it makes.
  • You can upload up to three images (JPG or PNG), maximum file size is 5MB each.
    Drop files here or
    Accepted file types: jpg, jpeg, png.

     Age Uk TheraPaws 7 April 15 Compressed

    For participating Centres

    Fill in a centre feedback form

    • Impact on residents/patients/staff/visitors, general comments
    • concerns, positives, comments
    • We will only use first names, unless told otherwise.
    • There is space below to upload three photos, by doing so we assume full permission is given to use these photos in the promotion of the TheraPaws programme in any way we see fit.
      Drop files here or