An increasing number of Florida nursing homes are permitting their residents to have pets. Experts believe the shift from banning animals to welcoming them has several reasons. The Sun Sentinel reports research shows seniors benefit from regular interaction with animals. Being able to bring along a pet helps to ease the transition into a nursing home. It also makes the facility seem more like home. Allowing pets is also good for business as it is an amenity consumers want. Facilities have previously cited health concerns when writing policies banning companion animals. There are no state laws prohibiting pets in Florida care facilities.
The nation’s largest senior housing placement company, A Place for Mom, reports about 40 percent of callers inquire about pet policies. In addition to seeking information about past instances of nursing home abuse or resident neglect, callers are seeking locations that will allow patients to bring along their pets. For some, whether or not the facility allows companion animals is almost as important as the rate of occurrence of bed sores or whether or not residents get proper nutrition.
When there are pets in nursing homes, the staff assists residents in caring for the animals. Some Florida assisted living facilities and nursing homes have even adopted pets on behalf of their residents. At Clare Bridge Alzheimer’s care unit, residents adopted a stray cat they have named Scout. Residents take part in Scout’s care with scheduled meetings. They also have times to play and interact with the cat. Scout’s presence in the unit has helped some residents remember old family pets.
Facilities that allow pets have rules about animals. Resident rights issues and allergy concerns are dealt with on an individual case basis. Nursing homes that allow pets take care to protect against resident infection as a result of the animals. They also conduct temperament tests to protect residents against animal bites and other hazards.