Although the Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) or commonly referred to as “pet therapy” is a relatively new concept, the use of animals in clinical areas has been around for years. Pet therapy–which is considered a complementary type of therapy–can help patients cope with stress, trauma, and anxiety.
Together with the animal’s handler, trained dogs and cats visit hospitals to provide comfort, affection, and love to people. Apart from dogs and cats, other animals can also be part of the Animal Therapy Team as long as they meet the screening criteria.
Recently, alpacas have proven that they also have some therapeutic qualities. Residents at Hadleigh Nursing Home in Ipswich, Suffolk had surely benefited from this one-of-a-kind treatment. According to LADBible, the said care home was chosen for a pet therapy trial by the Clay Hill Farm in Wattisham, Suffolk–a farm that keeps a herd of 60 alpacas.
During the visit, Clair Perks, the activities coordinator at Hadleigh Nursing Home, noticed a significant difference in the residents’ mood –“It really lifts the mood of people living with dementia.”
“One of our residents, Alfred Wright, who is normally not very expressive, sat bolt upright when he encountered one of the alpacas for the first time and said, ‘Darling, you have made my evening.”
Seeing the positive reactions of the residents, Jo Bridge, the owner of Clay Hill Farm, now brings them for regular visits.
“They are such an enchanting animal with a gentle nature. They lean forward and touch your face with their noses. We call them alpaca kisses,” she said.
She also added that the visits have proven rewarding for everyone, “You can see the pleasure the alpacas bring just by the big smiles on residents’ faces.”