Risk Management: Pet Contact in Nursing Homes

Risk Management: Pet Contact in Nursing Homes

One of the things many nursing home residents miss most is the companionship of a pet. It is heartbreaking to leave behind a beloved pet when a move to a long-term care facility is necessary. While many nursing homes have regular visits from therapy dogs, many are now opening their doors to permanent dog and cat residents either as facility pets, or as companions for individual residents.

Pets usually have a very positive effect on nursing home residents. Therefore, they are often are used for companionship, psychological support, and therapy. As companions, pets provide affection, engage residents, and give residents something for which to care.

Therapy Dogs

Many social workers, physical therapists, and occupational therapists provide dogs for therapy. Therapy dogs are often considered staff members at their facility, and may even wear special collars or accessories to be identified as such. They are trained to interact gently with residents, sense people’s comfort with them, and not to be afraid of wheelchairs, walkers and canes. Some therapy dogs even learn to assist with basic tasks such as fetching needed items and turning on light switches.

Facility Guidelines

Most state regulations allow pets, even though nursing homes are considered medical facilities. To mitigate risk, facilities need to have guidelines and procedures in place for pets allowed at the facility. Pets should be controlled – either by leash or carrying crate – and have current vaccinations. If visitors bring pets, they should bring proof of health and vaccination on the first visit and copies should be made and maintained in facility files.

Facility Concerns

Most of the time, residents with pets need their own mini-apartments, rather than rooms lining shared corridors. Additionally, facilities require residents with pets to be functional enough to perform most of the required caretaking duties. Pets need to have a temperament conducive to residing in a facility without interfering with the duties of the staff or the safety of other residents.

Health Concerns

A study by Gandolfi-Decristophoris and colleagues published in American Journal of Infection Control, evaluated pet contact as a risk factor for carriage of multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus in nursing home residents. Multidrug-resistant S aureus was more common in nursing homes without pets than in those with pets.

Some residents may have allergic reactions to pet hair or dander. Additionally, some elderly residents may fear dogs or cats. The health and emotional reactions of all resident need to be considered when a facility contemplates the introduction of pets.

Dogs and cats are finding full-time homes in long-term care facilities as the therapeutic benefits of pets for residents are realized. Pets may belong to residents, be facility pets for all to share, or part of a more structured program of pet visitation and therapy. Whatever their role, they present residents with beneficial interaction and the love only a devoted pet can provide.

At Connected Risk Solutions, we can offer our agents products to meet the specific needs of their clients. Please call us at one of our two offices in Chicago at 847-832-9100 or Lansing at 517-676-7100 for further information about our programs.


About Connected Risk Solutions

At Connected Risk Solutions, we provide our agent partners with bold solutions for comprehensive insurance and risk management that are unmatched in the industry. We have market connections and collective decades of industry experience, including deep specialization in healthcare liability and managed care E&O, cyber and tech liability, management and professional liability, as well as captive management and risk management. We strive to develop creative solutions no other wholesaler can match and to help our agent partners give their clients the ability to achieve continued growth while simultaneously protecting against loss.

Our specialists, located in offices throughout the country, are responsive and engaged. To learn more, connect with us.

Table of Contents

Related Posts:
cyber insurance
Exploring the Intersection of Cybersecurity and Managed Care: Challenges and Opportunities
The healthcare industry is undergoing a unique transformation where data and technology take the spotlight....
professional liability insurance
The Growing Need for Professional Liability Insurance in Healthcare
The increasing demand for professional liability insurance within the healthcare sector cannot be emphasized...
cyber insurance
Emerging Technologies in Managed Care: Enhancing Efficiency and Patient Outcomes
By incorporating technology into a managed care practice, there is an opportunity to improve patient...