Model Protocol For Animal-Assisted Therapy And Visitation Programs

Animals used in programs must be medically screened, properly vaccinated, and behaviorally evaluated.

Suggested wording: The HABIT Medical Evaluation Form will be used to medically screen all animals approved for HABIT sponsored programs. The Form allows the animal's attending veterinarian to record any history of zoonotic diseases, vaccinations, and health problems. In addition, the HABIT Behavioral Profile and History Form will be completed by the owner and the Behavioral Evaluation Form will be completed by an approved HABIT evaluator.

Animals must be under control at all times and specific areas designated where animals are allowed.

Suggested wording: Animals must walk calmly on a leash or remain calm in the arms of the volunteer or in a suitable carrier. Animals will not be left alone with residents but will always be under the supervision of the HABIT volunteer. Animals will visit in individual rooms and/or in common use areas such as activity rooms or lounges. Animals are not allowed in dining areas at any time. They are not allowed in individual rooms when meals are being served.

Residents and staff must be screened so persons allergic to or with aversions to certain animals can be identified and contact prevented.

Suggested wording: Persons, including staff, with allergies, aversions, dislikes or medical problems that necessitate restricted contact with animals must be identified. Screening for such individuals must be part of the routine entry evaluation (for residence or employment). Visits will not be made to individual rooms or common use areas unless all people in such areas are screened and willing to have the visit.

At least one person on the staff of the facility will be designated as the supervisor of the program. The time of visits will be determined by the facility supervisor of the program so as not to interfere with other activities and to avoid meal times. The facility staff person will be responsible for coordinating visits, answering question from the volunteers and reporting any actual or potential problem areas.

Comment: The staff person designated as the facility's supervisor of the program is referred to as the facility contact person by HABIT. It is best if this person is designed by job title instead of by name. Otherwise, the protocol would have to be resubmitted each time the person in the job position changes.

Suggested wording: The activity director [or nursing supervisor, clinical director, etc.] will serve as the facility's supervisor of the program and will serve as the HABIT facility contact person. He/she will set the time of the visits, in coordination with the HABIT Program and Volunteer Coordinator, so as not to interfere with other activities and to avoid meal times. If animals other than HABIT approved animals are allowed to visit the program area (e.g. personal pets of residents, facility mascots, etc.), they will not be allowed in the areas during the HABIT visits. The facility contact person must usually be in the facility during HABIT visits and is responsible for coordinating visits, answering question from volunteers and reporting any actual or potential problem areas to appropriate facility administrators and to HABIT. If the contact person is not present, there should be a designated person for the HABIT volunteer to contact if the need arises.

A veterinarian will be involved in monitoring the program.

Suggested wording: Faculty of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine will provide overall monitoring of the program. The animal's attending veterinarian will provide an annual medical evaluation using the HABIT Medical Evaluation Form.

Animals will visit for a specified amount of time.

Suggested wording: HABIT animals will visit for a maximum of one hour per visit.

If animal soiling should occur, the facility will execute a specified procedure. All animals shall be walked prior to their visit however accidents can happen.

Suggested wording: If animal soiling should occur during a visit, the volunteer will notify the facility contact person immediately and such procedures executed as deemed appropriate by the contact person.

The visiting animal will be clean, well-groomed, and free of external parasites.

Suggested wording: It is the responsibility of the HABIT volunteer to see that their animal is clean, well-groomed, and free of external parasites prior to each visit. The facility contact person has the right to inspect any animal prior to visiting. If the animal is not clean, well- groomed and free of external parasites, the facility contact person has the right to deny access. In such an event, HABIT should be notified.

Volunteers who bring animals to a facility should have training on what to expect at the facility and what is expected of them.

Suggested wording: Individuals interested in becoming HABIT volunteers must attend a general information meeting. In addition, new volunteers have an orientation meeting with the facility contact person and observe an experienced volunteer and their animal. On a second visit, a potential volunteer is observed with his/her animal by an experienced volunteer.

The program should be evaluated to assess the consequences and identify any problem areas.

Suggested wording: A HABIT evaluation takes place one month after the program is initially started and periodically thereafter. An evaluation meeting can be called by HABIT or the facility contact person.

Support from the community-at-large should be developed.

Suggested wording: A facility newsletter can be used to gather support from the family, friends and the community-at-large. Also, In-service meetings can be used to inform staff of HABIT program. This can be repeated periodically as staff changes.

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