This is Josefine, anxiously awaiting news as to whether she has been accepted as a pet therapy dog to visit the Dementia Centre at 42 Westbourne Park Road.
I am glad to report that she has been successful after a gruelling interview where she had to ‘shake hands’ and ‘lie down’ over and over again. She also had to resist grabbing at a custard cream held just out of her reach in the hand of a 96 year old resident (this last test actually happened on her second visit to the Penfold Hub and she passed with flying colours and only a little bit of understandable drooling)
She has performed very well on both her visits to the Penfold Hub. The very elderly residents, many with dementia, lit up when she and companion Frankie (Franz Josef, a very shy Yorkshire terrier) made the rounds of the residents lounge. When the dogs came into the room (on leads of course) the residents mostly seemed asleep but, when they saw the animals, all reacted and became animated and vocal, and reached out to pet the little dogs. It was really heartening and the positive, delighted, response was undeniable.
You may wonder what the connection could possibly be to libraries? The Health Information Project runs a ‘Share a Book’ session for younger residents (between 60 and 80), and over 50s visitors to the Hub activities once a month, and is starting another monthly bibliotherapy group at the Dementia Centre on the 5 June. For those residents who are unable to join in the bibliotherapy sessions Josefine and Frankie will visit regularly – it looks as though their visits are going to be popular. These visits will of course be on a volunteer basis and not in working hours!
If you would like to find out more about dementia, please contact the organisations linked above, or come to a special Dementia Information and Advice evening for Dementia Awareness Week (19-25 May) at Paddington Library, tomorrow 22 May at 6.00pm.