McKnight's Long-Term Care News, December 2018, Careers

One Louisiana nursing home has become a regular animal house, though it’s not populated by frat boys or sorority sisters.

Rather, the Many Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Many, LA, has been welcoming cats and dogs to its quarters to help bring a little friskiness into residents’ lives. The nursing home recently partnered with the local animal shelter to create a new program called the “Animal House Club.” 

It started when resident Valerie Gold found a wounded dog on the side of the road and brought her back to the facility, naming her Tula. Some of the residents then decided to start the club, which includes a play area for pets in a courtyard. Wanting to help more, they started making blankets for pets at the Sabine Humane Society, crafting more than 100.

The program was recognized by the Pioneer Network in September with a Community Commitment Award for its contributions to the eldercare field. “It’s very therapeutic, especially for me,” Glad said.

June Bolton, dietary manager for Many, said programs like this require a shift from the typical mindset. Many Healthcare became pet friendly years ago, allowing residents to bring their own critters.

“It’s beneficial because their lives don’t end here. This allows them to stay involved in the community,” she told McKnight’s. “This is their home and that’s how you have to look at it. ”