Many residents and team members at OSJCT Goodson Lodge in Trowbridge are enthusiastic cat fans, so the home organised their first Cat Café morning for International Cat Day on 8 August. Three kittens, and two Siamese cats Charlie and Oliver, belonging to Deborah, the daughter of the home’s biggest cat fan Derek, came to the home for strokes and cuddles from residents.
Pauline said: “It was so lovely to cuddle a cat that was so small.” Jean commented: “The cat I had was very content on the sofa next to me” and Judy explained: “Holding the cat was marvellous! It reminded me of having cats in the past.”
Cats hold special associations for resident Derek, who used to pet sit with his late wife Glenda, when their daughter Deborah was away on business trips. Since Derek moved into the home the cats, who are lead trained, have been regular visitors. Activities Coordinator, Alex Damon said: “Derek especially looks forward to these visits. Charlie, Oliver, and young Chico are lead trained and they seem to know their way around he home very well.”
These family pets were a great comfort to the family when Glenda, who stayed at Goodson Lodge, was suffering from the late stages of Alzheimer’s. Deborah explained: “It was always our tales of the cats that make mum laugh. As a family we will always be grateful that mum’s wish to have her cats with her in her room in her last days was granted. These cats are truly a calming influence, funny and so much part of our lives. They love coming into the care home.”
Research has found that interacting with animals decreases levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lowers blood pressure. Other studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost mood. *
Dementia UK has several case studies which demonstrate how pets can help reduce anxiety, improve mood and encourage communication and engagement in people with dementia.^