Our resource Animal Magic celebrates the amazing difference being around and caring for animals makes for many children and adults using a range of care services.
This resource is part of our approach to support innovation and improvement across the care sector in Scotland. Animal Magic highlights the ways many people get the most out of life by being around or caring for animals and pets. People experiencing care have told us that being around animals helps them relax, provides companionship, enhances their relationships, gives them a positive focus to their lives and makes them feel happier.
In the examples featured people experiencing care have told us that being around animals links to compassionate and nurturing care. Contact with animals can provide something special and magical in addition to human interaction. The examples show that having animals around services promotes a culture of kindness and tenderness for people of all ages, from young children to older people living with dementia. Some of the examples show that for some people , spending time with and caring for animals has specific therapeutic benefits and helps them process trauma and loss and become more emotionally resilient.
In Animal Magic and the accompanying film footage we hear the direct personal voices of people using and living in care services. We hear about the special bonds and transformative connections that are formed. We also hear that having animals in their lives allows them to form natural connections to the local community. This may be walking a dog or going to agricultural shows. Animals bring people together in a unique way and reduce isolation and loneliness.
Care professionals tell us in the resource that there can be challenges sometimes to overcome in order to keep pets in care services. The Care inspectorate recognises that there is a balance to be struck to ensure that everyone’s choices and rights are respected. The care professionals’ outline how there are positive ways to overcome challenges and organisations that can provide support. For each of the examples there is a section on things to think about and signposts to helpful resources and research.
We have produced 18 short documentary videos to accompany Animal Magic. Both care staff and people experiencing care, in all kinds of settings, tell us their own stories of the benefits animals bring to their service and how they made it work. You can watch our highlights video below. Or visit our YouTube channel to view all the films.
We hope that these stories inspire other care services to explore the benefits and magic of animals. We would love to hear from you if you have an example you would like us to feature on the Hub. Please contact us here.
More Animal Magic
1. "Pet Therapy" in Methven Primary School Nursery
The staff team at Methven Nursery in Perth and Kinross were inspired by our resource Animal Magic. They recognised that some children were anxious around dogs and decided to provide support. They connected with Balmullo nursery in Fife, featured in Animal Magic who were extremely helpful. This approach has been a extremely beneficial learning experience for the children.
Methven Primary School Nursery has run their "Pet Therapy" so far over a five week period, with the "Mollie" attending for a full day each week. They did it on a Monday one week, Tuesday the next week so that every child in their setting had at least one session with Mollie. Most children were able to access this at least three sessions and some had all five.
The staff found this an extremely beneficial learning experience for the children. They did an evaluation sheet with their children and a bit for parents to comment on and the feedback and learning that they discussed was amazing.
We hope you find this shared learning helpful.
2. Talking to the animals- the gift of reading out loud
The Harmeny Herald published an article about the benefits of dogs supporting children with reading and building their confidence. You can read the full article here.
3. Animal Guardians
Animal Guardians is a free one-to-one education programme from the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) suitable for primary school aged children. Together with the SPCA youth engagement officer, children will play a range of games and activities to help them learn about animal emotions, what animals need to keep them healthy and happy, and how to be responsible when around animals.
If you would like to know if your child would benefit from this programme or have any concerns about a child’s behaviour towards animals, please phone for guidance on 03000 999 999, option 5.
A child can be referred by anyone who is in a position of care for that child.
- Parents or other relatives/carers
- Childcare and health professionals
- Charitable organisations working with a child
Other useful information
Care Inspectorate Team Manager and author of Animal Magic, Mary Morris has written an article for the December 2018 edition of the Scottish Journal of Residential Childcare. The article advocates taking a positive, proactive approach to having animals and pets in the lives of looked after children. Links are made with the new Health and Social Care Standards. The life enhancing difference that animals can make for some looked after children in promoting their self-esteem and resilience are explored. You can read the article here.
Mary has also produced a blog (published February 2019) on the success of Animal Magic. You can read the blog here.
The Society for Companion Animal Studies has published updated good practice for organisations introducing animals to health, social care and education facilities as visiting and/or as communal resident animals.
The Health and Social Care Standards set out what we should expect when using health, social care or social work services in Scotland
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