Caring team members at an Erith care home made the dreams of their dog-loving resident come true, by giving her the chance to say ‘walkies’ to their four-legged pets.
Maureen Jones, 88, who lives at Heathfield Court care home on Colyers Lane, owned dogs throughout her life but hadn’t had one for years due to the onset of dementia.
She recalls: “I’ve always loved dogs. We had Alsatians, King Charles cavaliers, a golden Labrador and mongrels. We always had at least one but sometimes two, and I loved them all so much.”
The move to Heathfield Court, which Maureen made in January, was perfect for her as rescue dogs Trixie and Lulu have lived at the home full time since last year, after being adopted from AA Dog Rescue in Latchingdon by residents and team members.
Nikki Martin, home manager, said: “Trixie and Lulu are part of our family. Maureen adores them, whenever she sees them her face lights up. She is very loving and protective of them and is always concerned about how they are.
“When a new resident joins us, we always take the time to understand them and the things they’re passionate about. When we discovered Maureen’s love of dogs, and that she hasn’t been able to walk dogs for a few years, we were delighted to make it happen for her.”
Maureen took the dogs for a walk on the local green, accompanied by team members from the home. She said: “Trixie and Lulu are wonderful, dear little things, I loved being out in the fresh air with them. I let them do what they like, I tried to rush around with them. Being with the dogs makes me feel like I’m doing something good because they need you.”
The shih tzu-terrier cross dogs now take part in regular pet therapy sessions with the residents, which are particularly beneficial for people living with dementia.
Heathfield Court is a purpose-built, luxury care home providing residential, nursing and specialist dementia care. For two years running it has been named one of London’s Top 20 Care Homes by carehomes.co.uk.
Marilyn Hunter-Jones, Maureen’s daughter, said: “Mum’s dementia started a few years ago and she wasn’t able to take the dogs out on her own. She used to come to my house instead and share our dogs and help look after them.
“I think it is a great idea having the animals at the home as all the residents love them, Mum especially. Mum can go out whenever she wants with the dogs – she is looked after so well by the team members that I have no hesitation in her going out with them.”
Nikki said: “Lulu and Trixie mostly live on the ground floor where they can run around and enjoy our lovely gardens. Our residents, especially Maureen, think the world of them, they love to have lots of cuddles with them and give them treats. Pets are so soothing and calming and bring back lovely memories for residents who used to have dogs of their own.”
As their chosen charity of the year, the home has raised £500 so far for AA Dog Rescue and from July, residents will be taking part in a daily sponsored dog walkathon to raise more funds for the cause which Maureen especially is looking forward to.
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