The Stewart and Lynda Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA (RNPH) receives daily visits from People-Animal Connection (PAC) volunteers. This hospital’s focus is on providing comprehensive and revolutionary care for mental health, developmental disabilities, and neurology. PAC teams offer patients the ability to have a momentary break from the overwhelming and stressful medical circumstances they may be under, and spend time with a neutral and loving furry friend. There are 10 PAC teams dedicated to the UCLA Resnick Hospital, and are known as our Resnick Pups. Not only do dogs have the ability to provide a healthy distraction for patients, but both research and countless experiences through our program have shown that therapy dogs have the ability to pull patients out of their shells and allow for improvement in mood, behavior, and attitude. “Patients light up when the dog comes in,” says Robbie Harris, a recreational therapist who works with children and adolescents. Ellen Morrow, owner of PAC Golden-doodles Charley and Elbee, has seen many moving interactions between dogs and patients.
One teenage boy was so withdrawn, he would not come into the group therapy room. After a few PAC visits, he was hugging Elbee and even whispered, “I love you.” Recreational therapists work side-by-side with occupational therapists to make sure that all patients have the opportunity to take part in the 10-to 20-minute sessions. Overall, the Resnick Pups who visit the Stewart and Lynda Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA have proven to be a valuable resource for patients during their stay and have shown to be “miracle workers on leashes.”
Pictured: PAC volunteer Lynne Grande and her dog, Leo, visit patients on the adult psychiatric units.