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Dog-assisted interventions in care homes: A qualitative exploration of the nature, meaning and impact of interactions for older people

Jain, B. ORCID: 0000-0002-9149-5082, Hafford-Letchfield, T., Ellmers, T. , Chandra, C., Billings, B., Teacher, R., O'Farrell Pearce, S. & Clancy, C. (2021). Dog-assisted interventions in care homes: A qualitative exploration of the nature, meaning and impact of interactions for older people. Health and Social Care in the Community, 29(5), pp. 1450-1460. doi: 10.1111/hsc.13201

Abstract

Dog-assisted interventions (DAI) have been shown to have a wide-range of potential benefits for older adults living in care homes. Yet, there is a lack of published qualitative research which explores the experiences of care home residents, staff and dog-owner volunteers involved in DAI to fully understand its meaning, impact and value. This study aimed to explore the impact of a DAI on the social and emotional wellbeing of older residents living in care homes. The research employed a qualitative study design comprising overt, naturalistic researcher observation of weekly DAI sessions with 54 older adult residents across four participating care homes in the South East region of England over 3 months in 2018. Data were also collected through focus groups with 12 care home staff and 7 dog-owner volunteers. The data from the observations and focus groups was individually coded followed by thematic analysis across the three data sources. Findings demonstrated there were clear benefits for older people who engaged with DAI, as well as for dog-owners and to some extent for care home staff members. Benefits included sensory, emotional stimulation and opportunities for social interaction, reminiscence on early life experiences and these were supported by the development of some new social relationships. While there were some environmental challenges to implementing DAI, the findings confirm its value for care home residents, with minimal drawbacks from an organizational standpoint. As a low cost intervention, adoption of DAI in care home settings appeared to strengthen relationships between residents and staff and enable wider relationships with an external community resource.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Jain, B. , Hafford-Letchfield, T., Ellmers, T. , Chandra, C., Billings, B., Teacher, R., O'Farrell Pearce, S. & Clancy, C. (2021). Dog-assisted interventions in care homes: A qualitative exploration of the nature, meaning and impact of interactions for older people. Health and Social Care in the Community, 29(5), pp. 1450-1460, which has been published in final form at doi: 10.1111/hsc.13201. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions. This article may not be enhanced, enriched or otherwise transformed into a derivative work, without express permission from Wiley or by statutory rights under applicable legislation. Copyright notices must not be removed, obscured or modified. The article must be linked to Wiley’s version of record on Wiley Online Library and any embedding, framing or otherwise making available the article or pages thereof by third parties from platforms, services and websites other than Wiley Online Library must be prohibited.
Publisher Keywords: Dog assisted intervention; Care homes; Older people; participant observation
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
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