Friday, November 13, 2009

Today's Bunny Visit to the Nursing Home & some Lessons...w/photos

Hi there,
I am a little disappointed about the nursing home visit to be honest today. Although it wasn't bad, I felt it wasn't great. Nothing went wrong, it's just that it could have been better. In some ways this is a good lesson on arranging a great visit and a mediocre one. My husband arranged it and not me. I know more of what to ask for than what he does. It would have better to be doing visits than have a room full of people. Part of the issue was that the people there had some mild memory issues and attention span issues and would have done better in a small group or an individual basis. We spoke about the rabbits,but were asked the same questions repeatedly about them. We were filling a bigger gap of time with the same material compared to what you would get in an individual visit of shorter duration. I believe it would have been a better quality experience for the individuals if I were repeating the answers to the questions for a briefer period of time with no more than three people at a time. With the memory issues are very short attention spans, also. People fall asleep and it is difficult to keep people focused for long periods of time in these situations

I know this from having worked 16 years in the field and having much schooling in it. The people still enjoyed the rabbits, but I personally don't think as much as they could have. In more individual situations, I have had people sing to the rabbits and tell great stories. I have done this in situations where I worked and knew people and have also volunteered in situations where I didn't know a thing about the people being visited and have seen similar results.

Keeping the visit to a small group or individual also helps the rabbits feel less threatened. This is perhaps the same with all animals. Also, visiting individuals might reach out to people who aren't usually people persons or group-oriented. Also, you might find people can be sick or bed bound-not really able to leave the room and they miss out totally otherwise. Those are the people who benefit most. Generally, in the nursing homes, these are the people, who probably need the most interaction and attention, and are the people least likely to receive it.

If you want more ideas and thoughts about ways to help enhance a visit, check out my last post from yesterday.

I like using top loading carriers instead of side door ones. The rabbits won't feel cornered and afraid when there is a hand reaching in, especially out of the environment that they are used to.

I planned on bringing 2 bunnies, but we brought 3. The ones I planned on bringing were Cinnamon and Grumbellina (the one in my profile photo). Cinnamon will not be pictured because he was just rebellious on producing those Kodak moments. Someday I will produce a photo of him, but just not today. Also pictured is Woody, the eight year old dwarf bunny. Woody liked attention, but was not quite the show stealer as much as the lops. It seems, in general, there are no all-around favorites. It just seems to be what the flow of the day is.

It is good to ask the staff to guide you to people. They know the people and can also help if they know someone might be rough with an animal. There were no problems today and I've found that the rabbits usually know and react to ones they will be uncomfortable with due to rougher handling. That is one thing that has always amazed me!

It is funny that some people asked if they were cats, dogs or hamsters also. Perhaps because the older generation is not as familiar with lops as they would be the more traditional rabbit with ears that stand up. If it seems like a safe situation and the staff allow and if your rabbit is not really a wetter on the floor, it can be really entertaining for them to run around on the floor. It is good to not have the residents of the home in the area walking or wheeling about in their wheel chairs in the area because it may cause an accident. Rabbits are extremely quick.

Although I sound a bit disappointed in today's visit, I do believe the people liked it. The people didn't want us to leave and wanted us to return, which we probably will. We just need to set some guidelines that would help benefit us, the rabbits and those being visited to make it the fullest experience for all. I also think it is good to use "first times" somewhere as a baseline on which to start for growing in experience and learning-whether its the first time doing something or the first time in a different setting, etc. It was not a bad experience.

Thank you for joining me. I would love to have feedback from you about this posting or any others. I will look at it! I want this to be a nice place to visit and want your feedback.
Thanks for joining me,
Til next time.
Mary Ellen

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Our Bunny Visit to the Nursing Home is tomorrow morning...& an Alzheimer's patient and bunny story.

Hi Friend,
Just getting ready to go visit the nursing home tomorrow with two bunnies. We are bringing Cinnamon and Grumbellina. Grumbellina is my Cuddlebunny who is seen in a few photos in the blog. Her personality, looks and sweetness don't match her name, Thank Goodness. Grumbellina can be nasty to other bunnies, except Cinnamon. She seems to "respect" him more than like him. They are both lops. They are both neutered, so any "loving" behavior won't be creating baby bunnies. He tries to do that when they are together sometimes. In the somewhat stressful situation, both bunnies will get along very well and are "supportive" of each other. The more regularly our bunnies did this in the past, the more at ease they became with it. Cinnamon and Grumbellina are our pros at this in the most recent past.

We will post pictures of Cinnamon from the visit tomorrow. Cinnamon is an interesting bunny, who is more comfortable in all situations than any bunny I've seen, except for being held a long time by us. We bring him along because he doesn't need to be held. He will get pet by people seeing him in the top loading carrier. He will probably let one of us hold him near other people to be petted also. Just not like the long periods of time Grumbellina would.

Depending on the situation, the bunnies may be able to get some run around time also, to show off their antics. They can be most entertaining, especially for the older people that tend to think of the bunnies as outdoor hutch animals! It is great to enlighten people of any age!

I used to have a resident, in one nursing home that I worked at, that was in the beginning to mid stages of Alzheimer's disease. He used to tell his visiting wife about the bunnies that would come and visit him in his room. She thought he was seeing or thinking something that wasn't really occuring, except for in his mind. Imagine her surprise when I knocked on his door and wheeled in a cart with two bunnies in carriers on top of coming to visit. She pulled me aside, told me of his rabbit "ramblings" and then said that she guessed that not everything he said was inaccurate. It was nice to give them a new experience to share and talk about instead of just relying on trying to remember good things from the past. I think it was so out of the ordinary for him to see something like the bunnies in an institutional setting and that it was a pleasurable experience that it helped him to remember it much easier.

Well, I am getting ready to hit the hay, so I will close for now. Thanks for stopping by and sharing these experiences with me.
Til next time,
Mary Ellen

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Going to do Rabbit Visits in Nursing Home on Friday.

Hi there,

At first I groaned because my husband made an appointment for Friday morning to do Rabbit Visits at a nursing home/assisted living center here in our town. It is something that I actually like doing but wasn't happy about it being the first thing I had to do on my first day off from work of the weekend. But now I am looking forward to it.

We bring some of our calmer bunnies and tell about the bunnies, let people tell us stories and let people pet the bunnies. The bunnies can always seem to tell which people are comfortable or perhaps have dementia and might be not of good judgement. I used to bring the bunnies to nursing homes that I worked at and volunteered at others. If you ever are thinking of doing it with a rabbit of your own, there are good things to think about and read before doing it. It is very rewarding to you and for the people being visited, but it can be very stressful to the bunnies. A bunny can also react from being overstressed or tired.

You can google the internet for different resources, but I would also look up the Delta Society and a book called "Life worth living"- a book about a philosophy and organization called Eden Alternative. It should be very helpful in testing rabbits for temperament and acclimating them to that type of work. We bring more than one rabbit. They help each other destress and provide some moral support. Having more than one bunny along also gives other bunnies a break.

Make sure they have plenty of water, pellets and hay with them. I also use a top loading carrier because the rabbits are much more comfortable coming in and out of that. They are less fearful. If you are visiting a large facility, I would try to do one wing or section one time and go back to do other places other days. That way it is less rushed and not overly stressful on the buns or you. Make sure you give your bunnies lots of praise, some treats and attention-during and after.
They will probably not want to be bothered with anyone or anything after so give them time to sleep or whatever they want later. Give them quiet time and space. They earned it.

I will share the rewards to you and the people you are visiting in another post. It is worth it.
Here is an internet link showing my husband and I volunteering at a nursing home a few years ago with a couple of our bunnies.

I hope you enjoyed this!
Thanks for your visit!
Til next time!
Mary Ellen

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Raked Leaves at work today

Hi my friend,
I raked leaves at a community garden with my clients today. It is rewarding to know that we are helping an urban neighborhood have a "green" place to go to find solace in the world of noise and concrete that surrounds people there.

It has been a pleasant place to go throughout the seasons so far-from planting, weeding & maintaining. It has been wonderful getting to know people in the neighborhood that live there. They share a vital interest in the garden, which has many native species and perennials planted there. My clients get all kinds of reward from participating in the many aspects of care of the garden as well as just spending time there or having a place to go for peace and quiet or special events.

They also have spent time getting to know people in the neighborhood which represent a wide variety of people from all backgrounds and ties to the area. The area is in New Haven, CT where Yale University is. The garden is associated with the neighborhood, Yalies, local people of diverse backgrounds and socioeconomic background. It is an interesting little microcosm of New Haven bringing back nature!

I will share photos from this place throughout the seasons another time here! Hope you are doing well and I thank you for visiting as usual!! Thanks for sharing your time with me!
Til next time,
Mary Ellen