Sarthe. Pets are welcome in this retirement home!

Oscar, a double pony, visiting the Charles Drouer nursing home in Allonnes (Sarthe). ©Le Mans Hospital Center

A horse in one nursing home : the picture is surprising! It’s actually Oscar, a double pony, visiting nursing home Charles Drouetalons (Sarthe).

Recently, this company has been experimenting with animal welfare… But what is it?

Eco-grazing with sheep and goats

The story began in 2019. “We had an eco-grazing at the hospital center in Le Mans”, says Laurence Barret, head of the entertainment sector, at the Charles Drouet nursing home. “The animals were out once a week so they could brush them. We discovered all the interest and all the passion that residents can have for these moments of exchange with the animals. »

Pony, hen, rabbit, guinea pig… In addition to sheep and goats, other species have since joined the adventure.

“During the Covid period we set the project in motion. “This is part of a larger entertainment program that also includes garden development, therapeutic cooking…

Land available

The Charles-Drouet nursing home has the advantage of having a plot. “These are animals that live there permanently,” says Laurence Barret. “Animal welfare is also important to us. It also gives the residents the opportunity to come down to the garden when they want to see the animals. This stimulates them to go outside. »

Visiting families can also benefit from it: “it provides a topic of conversation”.

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“They feed them, they caress them…”

In May 2022, activities could be resumed with small animals, which can easily be brought into Ehpad. “They feed them, they pet them, they brush them, they hug them. »
Workshops take place around a table together, or in the premises “especially for residents who do not leave the bed”.

More difficult on the other hand to bring Oscar, the double pony, but equally appreciated.

On the one hand, “residents must not panic when they see a horse at once,” says the entertainment manager… But the horse must also be used to walking around the premises!

When the animal replaces the substance

If the animals can brighten the day of the elderly, they also serve as “communication techniques”, explains Laurence Barret, “with people who are anxious or who have periods of restlessness”.

These interventions thus make it possible to avoid the systematic use of drugs: “it works quite well”, it is assessed at the care home Charles-Drouet. “As long as we can limit this kind of additional medication, it’s good. »

Rediscovering the gestures of the past, knowledge, awakening one’s senses, exchanging glances with animals, talking to them and taking care of them… “It is also a responsibility”, emphasizes Laurence Barret. “They feel invested in something.”

A different approach to care and life in a retirement home just waiting to be developed.

“Adaptation to the residents’ wishes”

Sandie Fefeu, caregiver, in charge of entertainment, is currently training in animal mediation. “It’s something we wanted to try, see if it was possible.”

Ehpad called on an association to house the animals in the best conditions while thinking about the future.

“The aim is also to adapt to the wishes of the residents”, sums up Laurence Barret. New species could appear: “we are not closed to any possibility”.

Zoos, teaching farm, riding club… Residents of Charles Drouet also go out to see animals… more exotic!

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