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Animal Assisted Interventions Research

Nourishing Hearts' Research With McCormick Dementia Research​

Farm Animal Assisted Intervention with Individuals with Dementia: An Exploratory Study

Abstract An exploratory Animal Assisted Intervention study was conducted employing farm animals with individuals living with dementia living in a residential environment to assess if the intervention had any impact on behaviour. Fifteen individuals met the eligibility criteria but only 10 were able to participate in more than 67% of the sessions that consisted of petting, grooming, and walking the animals; singing animal-related songs, learning about the animal's history, species, and breed; training the animal; reminiscing about past human-animal interactions and relationships, and reflecting on the animal’s behaviours and story in relation to their own self. Individuals engaged in three one hour sessions for each of eight weeks. Outcomes were either positive or neutral with increased restful sleeping, decreases in verbally aggressive behaviour and depression, and being less resistive to care was documented. The outcomes were sufficient to warrant a larger scale investigation working with farm animals and this population.


The Impact of Animal-Assisted Intervention on Staff in a Seniors Residential Care Facility

Abstract As with any protocol involving both humans and animals, there were inherent risks with this research. These risks were minimized through the participant screening process which assessed for animal allergies and fears for particular animal species. Participants were selected for their interest in animals which reduced the risk for the participant to experience stress during the intervention. Interaction with animals poses a risk of zoonoses. Zoonoses are diseases that can be transmitted to humans from animals. To minimize this risk, all therapy animals were under veterinary care, were thoroughly groomed, and were regularly vaccinated and dewormed. Hand hygiene policies were followed. The therapy animals’ hand-rearing and socialization minimized the risk of physical injury by the animal. The therapy animals used in this study were sheep, rabbits, chickens, and a goat. These animals are considered safe and have previously worked with other residents living in long-term care homes with no previous incidents. To ensure the safety of the therapy animals, the International Association of HumanAnimal Interaction Organizations Animal Welfare Guidelines were followed for ethical human-animal practices and to protect the animals’ well-being. When working with therapy animals, animal welfare is critical since the animal is vulnerable and dependent on the therapist for their protection and well-being. The use of the Boat Inventory on Animal-Related Experiences (BIARE) reduces the risk of potential harm to the therapy animal. Additionally, the Guidelines for Wellness of Animals Involved, created by the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO), was utilized throughout the study to further ensure the wellbeing of the therapy animals.


Ontario Long Term Care Association



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