It’s not every day our residents get to hang out with a monkey, but for those living at The Orders of St John Care Trust’s (OSJCT) Coombe End Court home, that was exactly what they did

Two squirrel monkeys scurried into the home during an animal therapy session at the home in April. Animal therapy is proven to be a beneficial for the mind, especially for those with dementia, raising morale and lowering blood pressure. It is more common through cats, dogs and even horses but this time, the 17-year-old black-capped monkeys from South America, Malcom and Mitch were welcomed by residents with open arms!

The monkeys were playful and cute, and donned bright yellow coats. Barbara, who is one of Coombe End Court’s newest residents was thrilled with their visit. “Aren’t they such a delight, this has really made my day. I hope they can come back again soon,” she said.

Another resident explained how they usually have regular animal visits, which included “donkeys, llamas, creepy crawlies, snakes – but the bigger they are, the better.”

“The monkeys coming to Coombs End Court brought joy and happiness to the residents and colleagues, and was a good example of the benefits associated with pet therapy in care homes, and especially for those living with dementia,” OSJCT Admiral Nurse, Tori Bendall, who specialises in dementia care, said.

Evidence suggests that pet therapy can be beneficial for both physical and mental health. People living with dementia retain their emotional memories longer than their functional memories, and therefore time with animals will, for most people, tap into positive emotions and memories.

A quarter of the residents at Coombe End Court are formally diagnosed with dementia. The benefits of animal therapy include reducing anxiety, promoting a calmness and sense of wellbeing.

“We are always on the lookout for different ideas, any animal that comes in is good for our residents,” Coombe End Court’s Activities Coordinator, Clare Gore, said.