Monty proves a hit at care home
Dani Gaston, manager at Kirkley Manor, hailed the “benefits” of bringing her pet dog with her to the nursing and care home. “It creates that sense of home for people used to having a pet at home,” she said. “People are able to interact with him and stroke him, which works well for reminiscing about pets that they have had. They might not be able to recall specific details of their lives but they know he is called Monty. “People are calmer after his visit and he loves all the fuss,” she added. “They even save up their biscuits to give to him, “It benefits the staff too. If they are having a stressful day they can give him a cuddle and it makes them feel better.” With his shiny black nose and waggy tail, Monty the dog puts a smile on everyone’s face when he does his rounds at a Lowestoft nursing and care home. The two-year-old lhasa apso spends his days interacting with dementia patients at Kirkley Manor as part of an animal therapy initiative brought in by his owner Dani Gaston.
And Ms Gaston, who took over as manager at the nursing and care home in Kirkley Park Road in January, said having the little dog around was having a positive impact on both staff and residents. Ms Gaston, who previously worked in Ipswich before taking on the role in Lowestoft, began taking Monty to work with her when he was 15 months old. He underwent basic training with the Headway charity under its Brainy Dogs scheme to prepare him for working with people. Research has shown that therapy animals can have a calming effect on people with dementia as well as lowering blood pressure and reducing the use of anti-psychotic drugs for aggression.
Because of this, the care and nursing home has also introduced three chickens. Ms Gaston said the animals brought back happy memories for many of the residents who had kept chickens when they were younger. She added: “Our conservatory area overlooks the chickens and people like to sit there and see what they are doing. A couple of residents are ex-farmers and when the weather gets better they will go out there.” Monty’s presence has proven such a success that Kirkley Manor is now planning to host a dog show in the summer.
Author: Kathryn Bradley