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PALS People

photocredit: PALS
PALS people are volunteers ranging in age from 18 to over 80. Visiting is done on a team basis according to a set schedule, under the direction of a team leader and a facility staff member.

Visits are 60 to 90 minutes in length and involve both group and one-on-one sessions.

Freely contributing their time, expertise and hearts, the volunteer's role is vital. They are not involved in a social visit and they must be prepared to communicate through their pet with people who may be withdrawn, disoriented or severely physically or cognitively disabled.

The patient who responds to a pet may go on to communicate with the volunteer, staff, other patients and family members. However, for many of the people PALS visits, verbal communication skills are non-existent so contact with a PALS pet becomes even more important.

During the past years, PALS volunteers have made many breakthroughs. Patients have given response after not having spoken for months; depressed, unresponsive people have reached out to connect with the pets; and people considered to be immobile have turned towards or made physical contact with a PALS pet.