Therapy dogs help ease pandemic isolation at Loulé nursing homes

A team of five adorable therapy dogs is visiting senior citizens at Loulé nursing homes as part of a heartwarming initiative called ‘Um Cão à Minha Janela’ (A Dog at My Window).

The goal is to help ease the isolation that nursing home residents have been facing since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Created by Associação Kokua and supported by Loulé Council, the initiative is part of a larger project entitled ‘Dá-me a tua pata’ (Give me your paw) which uses the charming and therapeutic skills of these dogs to help people who are in need of emotional support.

“As the team behind the project is not able to enter the homes, in order to protect the seniors, this initiative is carried out through the buildings’ windows,” the council says in a statement.

It adds that the visits provide the elderly with “moments of affection” that help their “psychological and emotional well-being” at a time when they have been living for a year in “almost complete isolation”.

Daiana Ferreira, the project’s coordinator, told the Resident that the five dogs – Sueca, Luna, Indie, Gomas and Julieta – are chosen for each visit depending on the specific characteristics of each location.

Meanwhile, Loulé Mayor Vítor Aleixo says the council is “very happy with the results of this initiative.

“We have found a way of supporting our elderly, who are most affected by the lack of contact with their family members. We must also highlight the growing importance of animals in our society, in this case from a socio-emotional and therapeutic point of view,” the mayor added.

A visit from these amazing four-legged friends can be requested by contacting Associação Kokua by email (geral@kokua.pt). A “brief description” of the

beneficiaries (including their age, interests, living arrangements etc.) must be included as well as a description of the home and their availability.

Following the visit, the association will evaluate the results of the initiative and the impact it had on the person who received the visit.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com