SCCM Congress Features Therapy Animals at Wellness Lab

2/16/2019
The 48th Critical Care Congress Wellness Lab will feature a variety of topics, including a session that highlights the benefits of pet therapy in healthcare settings.
 
Making its debut at the 48th Critical Care Congress, the Wellness Lab is designed to give clinicians an opportunity to focus on their own well-being, which is essential for providing safe, high-quality patient care and for reducing stress and burnout.

The Wellness Lab will feature a variety of topics, including a session that highlights the benefits of pet therapy in healthcare settings. This session will feature therapy dogs from the San Diego Humane Society Pet-Assisted Therapy Program

“Pet therapy brings the joy of animal companionship to people who might not be able to have a pet of their own,” shared Elkie Wills, Director of Community Engagement at the San Diego Humane Society, on the importance of pet therapy. “Interacting with animals and the volunteers who share them gives participants the opportunity to engage in prosocial conversation and tactile stimulation.”

The P-AT Program volunteers serve over 20,000 clients a year in care facilities, including convalescent homes, hospitals, mental health centers, juvenile detention centers, corporate offices, and children’s programs. During these visits, participants have the opportunity to have hands-on interactions with animals, including rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, and dogs. For group sessions, participants visit with each animal and engage with the handler. In settings where the participant is in a hospital room or bed, the volunteers follow hospital or site guidelines on how the patients can interact.

These interactions can also be applied in healthcare settings—bringing physiologic, psychological, and social benefits to patients. A study by Halm (Am J Crit Care 2008; 17(4):373-376) found that interactions between patients and a therapy animal (commonly a dog or cat) led to relaxation and reduced reactivity to stress.

Clinicians interested in bringing a pet therapy program to their institution can reach out to their local animal therapy groups, including nationally represented U.S. organizations such as Pet Partners or Love on a Leash.

The Wellness Lab will feature a variety of other sessions on topics that include
  • Health and wellness habits
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Keys to healthy living
  • Wellness technologies
  • Meditation techniques
Learn more about the Wellness Lab topics to be discussed at the 48th Critical Care Congress by visiting sccm.org/wellnesslab.