The Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley in Littleton, Massachusetts offers their residents therapy visits with dogs, chickens and even fish. There’s also Travis, a friendly llama whose calm presence gives many of residents the opportunity to interact with others. Program director Lauren Gaffney explained the importance of animal therapy programs to National Geographic.
A lot of facilities don’t have animals and I don’t know if there’s fear of the cleanliness or what it is, but it is so easy to do. Not everyone can have a llama in their front yard or chickens but encouraging your workers or families that visit to bring in their animals is no cost and it’s nothing but beneficial for the residents. And it’s a shame that more facilities don’t because it is a wonderfully powerful experience for the residents and the patients who live in these areas. Just because someone is in a skilled nursing facility it doesn’t change who they are and it can be such a gratifying experience. It is a high level of loss at times and that’s hard. There are days that are really hard but the reason you do it is because even if it is someone’s last time, you’re able to make it more meaningful. That’s what you take away, that’s what keeps you going