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Mechanical pets give memory care residents at Glen Haven Manor comfort

Charlotte “Honey” Rhyno, a resident at Glen Haven Manor, is pictured enjoying a new mechanical cat at Glen Haven Manor. Both the cat and dog mechanical pets are bringing great comfort to memory care residents and are being enjoyed by many residents and staff alike.
Charlotte “Honey” Rhyno, a resident at Glen Haven Manor, is pictured enjoying a new mechanical cat at Glen Haven Manor. Both the cat and dog mechanical pets are bringing great comfort to memory care residents and are being enjoyed by many residents and staff alike. - Kimberly Dickson

NEW GLASGOW, NS – Glen Haven Manor in New Glasgow has several new additions to the facility that are creating an overwhelmingly positive impact. 

Duke and Duchess were the first of a number of mechanical pets, that were introduced to memory care residents at Glen Haven back in the spring, near the time of the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle. As the newly married couple was subsequently given the titles Duke and Duchess of Sussex, these names were given to Glen Haven’s first two mechanical pets. 

The number of mechanical pets at the long-term care facility has since increased to 10 and the Hasbro produced pets are capturing the hearts and attention of residents with dementia as well as many others at the long-term care facility 

The robotic, yet life-like, dogs and cats demonstrate the power of play for all ages and also are objects of care giving for the residents who feel an increased sense of purpose and affection. The pets have lifelike appearances and movements. The dog can move his head, lay down and barks while the cat meows, purrs and rolls over on her back.  

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“The mechanical pets are responsive to touch, providing helpful stimulation to our memory care residents but equally important they are bringing happiness, reassurance, security, delight and relaxation,” says Glen Haven CEO Lisa M. Smith. 

Heather Shepherd, RN, Director of Quality and Resident Care at Glen Haven, explains the first two pets were a trial run that met with such success more pets were purchased, including several donated by families of residents who saw the favourable impact and happiness they were giving residents.  Shepherd said that staff at Glen Haven has taken note of the use of mechanical pets in other long-term care facilities and wanted to explore this practice to test its effectiveness and benefits. 

“These mechanical pets bring a light to the eyes of residents and have become a proficient care aid for staff to use at any time. They provide interesting activity and exchange, give enjoyment and reduce anxiety. They bolster moods and support good cheer.”

Shepherd says memory care residents are not the only ones enjoying the mechanical pets as they are generating a great response from staff and other residents as well as visitors. She tells of how when they first arrived and were on her desk before distribution, she found herself wanting to pet them and have a conversation just like you would do with your own pet at home. 

“They are endearing and most of us can’t help but respond favorably to them.”

Christine MacFarlane, RN, Manager of Resident Care and Whispering Tide & River Glen Resident Care Areas, sees these pets with residents every day and agrees that the mechanical pets have been a great addition. 

“You have to smile when you see residents responding so well to them,” says MacFarlane. “They offer companionship and make them happy. Residents pat them, cuddle them and care for them. They trigger past memories of the love and affection they had for pets throughout their lives. It’s amazing.”

Available 24-7, Duke and Duchess and the rest of the mechanical pets at Glen Haven augment the joy and therapeutic benefits brought to the long-term care facility by the four St. John Ambulance therapy dogs that visit Glen Haven and its residents weekly. 

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