“Over the last few months, Dogs for Good has collaborated with Bristol Dementia Wellbeing Service (a partnership between the NHS and Alzheimer’s Society) to bring animal-assisted interventions (AAI) to the Bristol area in order to support people living with dementia by providing visits which are tailored to support people working towards specific goals. This pilot project has been very successful but it has also highlighted that beyond goal-oriented interventions, people are also benefitting from a dog visiting simply to provide a bit of company and comfort.
Side by Side is one of the services supported by Alzheimer’s Society under the Bristol Dementia Wellbeing Service and Dogs for Good have recently been lucky enough to work on a new pilot alongside Side by Side.
Side by Side already train volunteers as befrienders for people with dementia living in the Bristol area and our goal was to collaborate with them and share our knowledge of working with dogs in order to support the training of volunteers and their own dogs, to enable the dogs to be a part of the befriending visits.
It is widely known that dogs can provide a very unique way of offering comfort and they have an amazing ability to connect with people, and at Dogs for Good the welfare and wellbeing of the dogs is always on the forefront of what we do. All the volunteers and their dogs therefore went through a careful selection process to ensure that not only were the dogs suitable but they would also be actively enjoying the experience and interaction.
After a 6-week training program and assessment period, we are very pleased to welcome Laura and Harvey, Nathan and Audrey, Rachel, Alex and Fergus as well as Jess and Poppy as our first official Side by Side Dog Teams. These guys have worked really hard and have demonstrated how well they understand their dogs and how well they can support them in various situations. Over the next few weeks they will be individually matched and start visiting a person with dementia. We are really excited to hear how they are getting on and gain more feedback to make sure that, should we be in a position to offer more training in the future, we can do this in the best possible way. This will, support Side by Side to meet the very high demand for their befriending service and enable more people affected by dementia to benefit from this amazing service.