Assessing the Impact of the Mayhew "TheraPaws" Dog-Assisted Therapy Programme on Older People in Care Homes

Jain, Briony and Hafford-Letchfield, Trish and Chandra, Carl and O'Farrell-Pearce, Sioban and Billings, Barbara and Teacher, Ruth and Syed, Shabeer and Ellmers, Toby and Clancy, Carmel (2019) Assessing the Impact of the Mayhew "TheraPaws" Dog-Assisted Therapy Programme on Older People in Care Homes. [Report]

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    Abstract

    Mayhew is an animal welfare organization operating predominantly in London. In addition to rescuing and rehoming animals in need, Mayhew also delivers a broad range of community-based animal care, education, and welfare programs that aim to benefit animals, their owners, and the broader community. One aspect of Mayhew’s work is the TheraPaws dog-assisted therapy programme which involves volunteers and their dogs visiting older adults in care homes. The programme promotes the potential and perceived benefits of taking animals into care settings to encourage social interaction and improve emotional and physical wellbeing among older people. The TheraPaws programme relies on volunteers, and their dogs making regular weekly or fortnightly visits usually lasting between 60 – 90 minutes (depending on the energy of the dog). Mayhew currently undertakes its own evaluation of the TheraPaws programme through the use of data routinely collected by volunteers, administrators, the Project Manager and other contributors. The organisation’s self-reported benefits of the TheraPaws programme include: social interaction and companionship; emotional and physical well-being through stress reduction and affection; unlocking memories and emotions for those living with dementia and building relationships between volunteers and care home residents (https://themayhew.org/therapaws/). This report was commissioned to provide an evaluation to establish whether there was more independent and reliable evidence base for their activities to confirm these benefits.