May 12, 2017
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.
Where do you regularly visit?
We visit Westmead Care Home in West London.
What attracted you to TheraPaws?
I had been thinking about doing this sort of work for a couple of years. I saw similar projects on TV – buddy dogs in the US interacting with people who are suffering. It seemed interesting as people generally can’t have pets with them in care homes, so it is a lovely idea to take a dog in to visit them. The residents don’t need to talk; they can just be with them.
Do you remember your first visit?
I remember being nervous when we started as I didn’t know what to expect and because I wanted it to work out so much. As it turned out I enjoyed myself as I relaxed into the role, and it went really smoothly. Lexi enjoyed herself (of course), the residents really wanted to meet with her and the staff were brilliant.
What’s your fondest memory so far?
Nearer the time I started I met a man who had recently had a stroke and this had taken away his capacity for speech. He found it hard to communicate with the staff and this left him feeling really frustrated. When he saw Lexi he insisted on getting down on his hands and knees to play with her. Lexi loved it and all the residents were looking on and enjoying it.
The man didn’t need his voice when playing with Lexi, so you could see him become more relaxed and happy. This happened a number of times over the next few months; he even managed to communicate enough to say he never had his own dog. It was a touching experience that will live with me forever and it is a true example of why these visits are so important.
What are your thoughts on the TheraPaws programme?
It helps to break up the residents’ day and gives them something different to do and look forward to. Dogs are easy company, with no pressure and no demands. I am really pleased TheraPaws has grown, that there are so many dogs now and that the programme is doing well. I think it is really beneficial to the residents, especially to those who have little or no visitors.
In 2016, the TheraPaws team made over 1103 visits. If you’d like to join our big-hearted group of supporters please contact TheraPaws Project manager Luke on 020 8962 8004 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.