Owning a pet can be a great source of companionship and comfort for people at any age – but with evidence showing that having a pet can improve mood, health and reduce social isolation, these benefits can particularly make an impact on the lives of older people.
And that was no different for *John, one of our service users, who has been the proud and loving owner of Patch, a Jack Russell, for the last ten years, ever since Patch was a puppy.
*John has been receiving care from our Islington Services for Ageing and Mental Health team since he was diagnosed with dementia. Since then, John has found it increasingly difficult to care for himself and Patch. Initially, social worker, Amy Davison, organised a care package for John which included people coming in to visit to feed and walk Patch.
However, as *John’s dementia worsened, he found it more difficult to live in his own home and eventually needed to move to a care home.
Patch remained in the family home on his own, with John’s family visiting once a day to feed and walk him. However, John’s family were unable to take Patch in themselves due to various circumstances. Amy and colleagues spent a considerable time trying to help *John and his family find alternative homes for Patch. Just when it looked like they had run out of all options, it dawned on Marijke Post, Senior Service Manager, that she might have the solution.
Marijke explained: “I couldn’t bear the idea of Patch going into a dog’s home and I really love dogs, so after exploring all these other options and getting nowhere, I decided to offer Patch a home with me and adopt him.”
She added; “I understand how important pets can be for our service users – so we were all invested in trying to make sure Patch was looked after!”
As John was no longer able to make an informed decision about what should happen to his beloved Patch, Amy used the Mental Capacity Act, a law which ensures people without capacity have their rights and wishes protected, and in discussion with the family made a Best Interest decision for Patch to be rehomed with Marijke.
Marijke said: “Patch has since settled very well to his life in the countryside where I live! This is a real feel-good story and has been great for morale in the office. Patch remains a great topic of conversation and brings many smiles and also a sense of pride in how staff go above and beyond for our patients.”
Marijke and the team advise elderly patients with pets to join the Cinnamon Trust – for a small yearly contribution the charity will provide short and long-term support for people who can either no longer walk their pets or who having gone into respite care or hospital.
*Due to the personal nature of this story, the name of the person involved has been changed to protect his identity.
C&I has moved the service we normally offer in emergency departments to our 24-hour Mental Health Crisis Assessment Service, at St Pancras Hospital. The service will see people in need of urgent care so that they do not have to go to a hospital emergency department unless they have an urgent medical need. Emergency departments are under unprecedented pressure due to COVID-19 – the illness caused by coronavirus. We are urging people in mental health crisis to telephone our 24/7 crisis line on 020 3317 6333 or contact their usual community mental health team. If service users attend the 24-hour Mental Health Crisis Assessment Service in person we will see you but we urge you to contact the crisis line in advance for advice to ensure you are only leaving home when absolutely necessary.