The Paw-fect Companion for New Malden Residents

Residents at Abbeyfield House care home in New Malden have been enjoying spending time with a seven-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Misty.

Misty is a therapy dog, whose handler Chris is a volunteer for the charity Therapy Dogs Nationwide (TDN). TDN arranges one-off and regular visits from therapy dogs to places that support a wide range of vulnerable clients, including older people, people with disabilities and SEN schoolchildren. The animals provide emotional support, stimulation, and a distraction from the problems that these people face in everyday life.

Every Wednesday, Misty visits Abbeyfield House to spend time with the residents. They love spending time with her and, for some, it stirs up memories of when they used to own dogs as pets.

One resident, Charles, says, “Misty is a lovely dog. Seeing Chris make her do all the tricks she can is really enjoyable to watch. Having had dogs all my life, it is great to see one come visit us. Misty reassures me and makes me calm, just like my own dogs used to do.”

Misty’s visits are part of a wide activities programme that Abbeyfield House residents have the option of joining in with, alongside their fellow residents. Although they can enjoy the privacy of their own private room and en-suite bathroom, the unique communal model that all Abbeyfield services operate on mean that values of companionship and community are at the heart of what the home does. This applies to each of the care homes, sheltered housing schemes and independent living complexes in the charity’s international network, giving residents ample opportunity for socialising and interacting with different people and, in Misty’s case, animals too.

Abbeyfield House’s Activities Coordinator, Jamie Ward, believes that Misty brings unparalleled benefits for the residents.

“Our residents here at Abbeyfield House in New Malden get a lot out of seeing Misty, I have seen how their behaviour and mood changes when they seen her. Having cuddles with an animal is one of the best ways to help improve people’s mental health and general wellbeing."

"I have noticed certain residents get very happy when they see Misty and can't wait to pet her. They especially enjoy feeding her carrots, that Chris brings with her. We are very lucky to have Misty and Chris come to the home and be with our residents.”

For Chris, she enjoys making a difference to the lives of the older people that Abbeyfield supports.

She says, “For me, as the therapy dog handler, I love to see the smiles on the faces of the residents, staff and visitors, and the joy that Misty creates. It is the most rewarding experience, and I am very proud to be a volunteer for TDN.”


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