One of the federal requirements in Long Term Care is to provide a home like environment for residents.This is particularly a challenge in a large, old facility which was originally built as a Hospital in the mid 1900's. The fact that we are a County Facility with a 97% Medicaid population leaves us with little funding for major renovations.Mostly we have met this requirement by creating comfy lounges on each floor,using artwork to decorate institutional looking walls,decorating resident rooms and encouraging people to bring favorite personal items to individualize their rooms.
Over the last few years we have talked about adding Pets to the mix of our efforts to create a home like environment.The health benefits of Pets, particularly in lowering blood pressure, is well documented in the literature. There was lots of dicussion over what types of pet(s) to get and who would be responsible for their care. After MUCH discussion, we decided to get a cat for one of our 10 Nursing Units. Off we went to the local shelter in search of a kitty. It was a tough decision - they were all so cute and loveable. We told the staff which cat we had finally decided upon. With a pained expression, she responded "oh, Tom & Jerry are siblings. they have been together since birth and have to be adopted together". It took us about 10 seconds to agree to take both of them!
Well, these two kitties were an instant hit with both residents and staff. Jerri is the one with more white on her face. People were coming from all over the building to visit and play with these two charmers. They are both cuddly and playful. Their antics bring smiles to the faces of even the most difficult people (residents and staff alike). We have since added 5 more kitties for 3 other Units. Over the next two months we will add 4 more cats, so that each unit in the building has 2 ( well, except for the Dementia Unit which has its own Cat). It the middle of the most stressful days, I love taking a break to visit these Charmers!