Our pet therapy program is a complimentary service and an extension of our mission. Hospice of Southern Illinois’ care team focuses on finding ways to bring comfort and peace to patients and their loved ones. Pet therapy has the power and possibility to offer additional support while adding joy, companionship, social interaction, and emotional connection to individuals at any stage in their end-of-life journey. When a pet enters a room, watching the impact unfold is amazing, as tensions lower and people open their minds and hearts to new experiences. Patients can feel the fur and warmth of the pet, watch commands, observe pet tricks, or simply enjoy the presence of the pet companion and their unconditional love. Everyone involved experiences a moment in time to break from the unknowns and focus on making memories.
Pet therapy offers many benefits, not only to patients, but their loved ones too. Hospice of Southern Illinois’ volunteers have seen family members and caregivers’ fears and anxieties reduced and positive conversations happen after the visit concludes. Understanding the range of benefits pet therapy provides can shed more light on why this service is so valuable to individuals with a terminal illness and their loved ones who support them along the way.
Benefits of Pet Therapy
- Improves the quality of life of patients
- Improves the quality of life of families
- Provides comfort and joy
- Helps build social connections
- Aids in the improvement of mental and emotional wellness
- Relieves caregiver stress
- Enhances well-being
- Can increase interaction and communication
- Can decrease anxiety or other physical symptoms
What to Expect During a Visit
Hospice of Southern Illinois’ specially-trained volunteers will greet the patient in their room or family area to confirm they want a visit. With the patient’s or family’s approval, and the goal of comfort and peace in mind, Hospice of Southern Illinois’ volunteers, the pet therapy handler and the pet will provide a visit. Pet therapy animals often times are dogs and visits range from 10 – 45 minutes depending on the needs and wants of the patient and family. Requests can be made by the patient, family members, and/or by caregivers and visits can include:
- petting, holding, and cuddling the pet
- handler performing commands and tricks
- round-table conversation and answering questions
- just enjoying the presence of a pet
Regardless of health or age, pet therapy has the power to positively impact people both physically and emotionally. Pet therapy programs support the mission of Hospice of Southern Illinois: to enhance the quality of life for individuals and their loved ones touched by a terminal illness.