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llombardo 12-04-2013 07:57 PM

Anything I need to know for 1st visit to nursing home?
Midnite and I are going for our first visit on Saturday. The nursing home is one level, so everyone is all together, meaning ill, assisted, and mentally challenged. I'm slightly concerned about the mentally ill part because in past experiences/volunteer work has proven they can be very belligerent. Of course I know they can't help it, but will Midnite know that? He is smart and by the standard he should know the difference and I think he will, but what if I'm approached in a manner that he feels is threatening? I know that remaining calm on my end will be extremely important. What else can I expect? Do I just walk around and whoever wants to see him approaches if do I attempt to approach everyone? I'm excited and I want this to work out.

MichaelE 12-04-2013 08:19 PM

I think I would speak to a couple of regular staff members and nurses who deal with the residents on a daily basis for information on any patients that your dog may consider a problem.

Baillif 12-04-2013 08:24 PM

Yeah the important thing is to watch your dog for stress signals or for signs hes maybe going into avoidance behaviors. If that happens back him off. Be prepared to diffuse him with treats or toy and let him blow a little stress off if you notice any.

Springbrz 12-04-2013 08:49 PM

Be aware that most elderly patients are incontinent to some extent often wearing adult diapers and that the smell of urine/feces on patients may make him curious to sniff in those places. That may startle or frighten the patient. Old people fall easily trying to take a step back. It might be wise to having greetings with sitting patients until you get a good sense of how Midnite is going to react in this new environment.
It's a good thing you will be doing. My Grandmother-in-law and the residents at the nursing home she is at love it when my MIL brings in her lap dog to visit. He's small so it's easy with him to be put in someone's lap for visits.
Good luck to you and let us know how it goes.

Shade 12-04-2013 08:52 PM

I agree, be in tune with your dog and recognize their signals and be ready to step in. Alex was one of the most quiet, easygoing dogs you'd ever meet so I really had to watch him because his signals were so subtle. Don't be afraid to tell the resident you need to go, there's always another visit next time :) Nurses/other volunteers can be a wealth of information and help

I had a small backpack with lots of small treats, it's much safer for people to feed food that you know where it came from :) Also baby wipes to clean hands/messes up, a bottle of water both for you and Midnite, gum (keeps the throat lubricated and I found it helped with nausea from certain smells), and kleenex (always useful)

Hope that helps :) It's extremely rewarding!

ken k 12-04-2013 09:31 PM

you should limit your visits to an hour, if your dog shows any signs of stress, then take him out of there, ears forward, tail out, get him out of there, never mind the treats, if you have to brib your dog with treats, then you shouldnt be doing therapy work with him, also when you go up to a wheel chair have the dog sit at the side for petting, never in front, if the person reaches out front to pet, could fall out of the chair, also watch out for pills on the floor, keep an eye on your dog at all times, being a Therapy dog team is very rewarding, your first responsibility is to your dog, let us know how it goes, forgot to mention, you should be calm, if you start getting stressed so will the dog

Quinnsmom 12-04-2013 10:10 PM

What Ken K said is very comprehensive advice. Even a half hour is enough for a first visit. Take your dog out before he gets tired to keep it a positive experience. I would discourage any feeding of treats by residents to your dog. The skin on elderly people is very delicate and should Midnight bump someone's hand with a tooth or, heaven forbid, raise a paw up and scratch someone, an injury can occur. Someone might also mistakenly think the dog had bitten them and that is a world of trouble. Ask the recreation staff or whoever is arranging your visit for a list of residents who would like a visit, as not all will be receptive to dogs. As time goes along and the residents expect you, watch for any of them offering treats to Midnight. It could be a chocolate or a sandwich they kept from lunch four days ago - seen it happen!

llombardo 12-05-2013 01:19 AM

All very good advice and all stuff I wondered about. I'm teaching Midnite head down so that he places his head in their lap gently. I have also been blowing in his face, making noises at him and around him. I even dropped medication on the floor as a test...he has to be thinking I finally lost it.

Kat Tastic 12-05-2013 05:09 AM

I would give his nails a trim too, everyone is very correct about the skin issue. With the elderly, it becomes paper thin and bleeds/bruises easily. Add the blood thinners...oh my.

It may be a good idea, if this is his first visit, to give him (and you!) a little break outside to play and relax every 30 minutes or so? Just a thought.

Ask the staff about signs on the doors too. Usually people who are at risk for falling have pictures of waterfalls (not kidding) by their names. Little things like that can help you know what to expect/watch for. :)
*Find out what sign/color they use for patients with dementia...some can become violent and prone to outbursts, which may frighten your pup. Usually they have a seperate wing, but I would ask.

I hope you have a fun time, and your pup too! That's wonderful work, and the residents talk about it all week! They even tell us on their ambulance trips about "the sweet man/woman who brings in the beautiful dog..." Touches my heart!

llombardo 12-05-2013 08:19 AM

Nails were trimmed last week. I thought last night when I seen another GSD with super long that could hurt someone. He also just had a bath.

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