Hautes-Pyrénées: the canine method brings benefits to seniors in the EHPAD de Luz-Saint-Sauveur

Home Hautes-Pyrénées: the canine method brings benefits to seniors in the EHPAD de Luz-Saint-Sauveur
Written by Doug Hampton

the essential
The usual visit of the seniors of the EHPAD of Luz-Saint-Sauveur, is not human but animal. The “Music” dog, accompanied by his caregiver mistress, brings social benefits.

“When the dog sits in the bed next to this resident, I let them work together,” says Michèle Delhommeau, caregiver. Since 2021, this health professional has been visiting her patients with her dog “Music” at the Accommodation Establishment for Dependent Elderly People (EHPAD) in Ramondias de Luz-Saint-Sauveur. This old man lying in his bed awaits the daily visit of Music, crossed labrador and border collie, which brightens these days. Helped by his mistress, this mediator dog lies down next to this senior and brings him comfort. “But she’s cute, before I had dogs and now I have her,” he says, a smile on his face.

“You will thank the dog for the visit”, is the phrase that Michèle hears every day when she visits the seniors of Ramondias, located at the foot of the Luz mountains. The visits can be individual, “he makes a triangulation between the person, him, and me his mistress”, she explains, while recalling the objective, “my dog ​​creates a bond, he often comes to see seniors who find it difficult to open up to others, it happens in the look he exchanges with the person”. Just like collective, in a common living room, where several residents face each other and await the arrival, with a keen eye, of what it gives them novelty. “We play several games, small skipping ropes, balls with rewards inside, moments of tenderness with each of them. “, delivers the caregiver.

Residents during a collective session./ Photo Charlotte Sauvignac

Residents during a collective session./ Photo Charlotte Sauvignac

Mediator dog, it can be learned!

But before getting there, Music had to go through several formations. Now six years old, he started as a “visiting dog”, where he completed a two-day course with a dog trainer to manage the behavior. A role that was used to come and see the seniors in the common areas to give them some comfort. In 2021, Michèle decides to aim higher and makes him pass the certification of mediator dog. An intensive week of training with a dog trainer, the director of the EHPAD as well as the realization of a test on the memory of the animal. “We have been certified as a couple”, concludes the mistress, but informs that her presence is not necessarily compulsory, “now, Music makes the visits with the nurse when she leaves to put on bandages, it is a way of relax the resident. »

The Director of the Establishment, Jean-Jacques Sabart, confides that the position is not yet concrete, “we are working to create a long-term specialized position. Recently, the EHPAD intends to ask the Regional Health Agency (ARS) to create a post at the beginning of next year. The Ramondias Establishment is not unique, the director affirms that there are more and more of them. There is only one step for the dog to become, in the long term, the best friend of seniors.

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