When illness strikes, hospice programs provide patients with the benefits of being at home with familiar comforts and trusted family members. Hospice patients’ pets play an important role in reducing stress and depression, and providing a much needed source of companionship during a difficult time. The Pet Peace of Mind Program developed by Hospice of Green Country in Tulsa, OK has been nationally recognized as a model for keeping hospice patients and their pets together. The Pet Care Trust was pleased to award a supporting grant of $1,000 to the Pet Peace of Mind Program in January 2010 to help enable the program to meet the needs of hospice patients’ pets. The program embodies the spirit of the Pet Care Trust’s mission, which includes promoting humane and responsible care and treatment of companion animals, highlighting the important role of responsible companion ownership in society, and supporting the human-animal bond.
According to Tamra Moore, Executive Director of Hospice of Green Country, the Pet Peace of Mind Program has served 43 animals belonging to 25 patients since January 2010, and is currently serving 27 animals. The program identifies the pet care needs of patients, providing whatever is needed to keep the pets healthy and able to stay with the hospice patients. Moore says, “Everything is so personalized to the home and what the need is that it’s always a variety of things we are doing.” Services range from providing pet food or litter, to spaying or neutering services, vaccinations, grooming or veterinary care. Other services include boarding or pet sitting, transportation and foster care. “Our program is pretty comprehensive, and certainly we run into new things all the time that we have to figure out the appropriate way to handle,” she explains. “But the bottom line is that we’re helping to maintain the relationship and keep the pet in the home, which is the whole goal of the program.” The program continues their commitment to the pet in the case of a patient’s passing, by ensuring that the pet is placed in a loving new home.
Moore explains that some patients need financial support as resources dwindle, and others need help with the actual pet care and getting the animals to the veterinarian to maintain good health. “Some of our patients are financially okay and able to provide food and all of that, but they may be so weak that they can’t get their animal to the vet, so we take over that role.” Moore goes on to say, “For the patient it’s a huge source of relief as far as additional stress that could be there if they weren’t affording the care the pet needs.”
It has been well documented that pets are therapeutic in hospice situations, and keeping a beloved pet and hospice patient together benefits everyone involved. Moore says that sometimes a pet is really the only companion some of the patients have, so the program plays a very important role. “We benefit the patient and the family by keeping that pet in the home with them and healthy, and we benefit the animal by making sure they are getting the care that they deserve and need too,” she explains.
In looking at program numbers for 2010 to date, Moore says that the program continues to grow and will likely show an increase in the number of patients and pets the program will assist throughout 2010. The Pet Care Trust is pleased that their supporting grant goes directly to those patients and pets needing assistance.