When I was deciding what to choose for the volunteering part of my Duke of Edinburgh award, my Mum mentioned Therapet to me. In the end I decided to go for it. To help this charity I had to be disclosed which took a long time, but I know it is worth it by the response that we get from the residents at the care home when I go to visit. The first time we went all the residents were quite reserved when it came to meeting Harvey. Now when we go in to the day rooms everyone starts to sit upright so that they can meet Harvey. There are so many people that never used to say a word to us but now have long conversations with us about other dogs that they have met in the past and some other stories. Most of the people there have dementia or some other long term illness and sadly it is hard to understand what they are saying most of the time, but when we leave we can clearly see the difference talking to them and letting them stroke Harvey has made their day.
There is this one man, who never used to come out of his room and we used to have to go to his room to visit him but now he comes out of his room to the day room especially to meet Harvey. He is always very pleased to see Harvey and Harvey loves to see him so happy to see him. As I have mentioned before many of them have dementia and so they cannot remember things, but when we talk to the residents many of them manage to remember things that we have told them the week before.
It is great to see that Harvey is making such a positive impact on their lives, seeing Harvey does not only enrich their lives for the time that we are there because many ill people can remember animals better than people, so when we are not there, Harvey will give them something to talk about.
One week just as we were arriving we saw an ambulance outside the care home, then one of Harvey’s regulars came out in a wheelchair and naturally Harvey went straight up to him to say hello, the man became so happy to see Harvey and even remembered his name. We were so pleased that as the man was leaving for the hospital his memory was of Harvey. This experience has taught me many skills which I will take away from this including, patience, compassion and the ability to talk to people in a different circumstance from me. Overall Harvey and I are loving this experience and it is great to see the residents are becoming more open and responding so positively to our visits.
Alice Guse aged 15yrs visits Lambhill Court Nursing Home in Glasgow with her Therapet Harvey