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Dogs give dignity to elderly in care homes

Hundreds of care homes are inviting dogs to live with their owners in a bid to improve the care home experience and prove that pets can be more therapeutic than pills.

The Cinnamon Trust, the national charity for the elderly and their pets, is supporting the Kennel Club’s Open for Dogs campaign, which aims to improve access to care homes and other public places and businesses, for dogs and their owners. There are approximately 500 care homes on the Cinnamon Trust register that are Open for Dogs.

The drive to open up care homes to dogs comes as the government launches its search for ‘dignity champions’ to raise awareness of the importance of compassion in care services. Michael Parkinson is the latest celebrity to endorse the campaign.

“Dogs are wonderful companions, and separation from your pet when you go into a care home can be an exceedingly traumatic experience, “ said Caroline Kisko, spokesperson for the Kennel Club. “It is tragic that some people are being separated from their partners when they go into care homes, but for some people a dog may be their only source of companionship and the forced separation of a dog and their owner is very unfair.

“It is proven that dogs are good for people’s health, and their presence in a care home can be crucial to the recovery of elderly people who may be suffering from illness, bereavement or simply trying to adjust to their new surroundings. More care homes should follow the lead of those on the Cinnamon Trust’s register and open their doors to dogs.”

Loraine Olsen, proprietor of Owls Barn, a small dog-friendly residential care home in Lincolnshire , said: “Our belief is that pets are more therapeutic than pills. A resident, who had become extremely poorly recently, had to be admitted to hospital, and according to the doctor, the main factor in her recovery was her determination to get better and return to ‘all the dogs’ at Owls Barn.”