Dog Becomes Staff Member At Alma Assisted Living Facility

ALMA (KFSM) -- A new staff member is bringing a bit of joy to the lives of residents at Alma Health and Rehab.

"It sure has helped me," resident Dwyla Sims said. "I think [she] has. She's a doll, let me tell you, everybody wants to pet her and have her in their lap."

Lucy is a ball of energy who runs from room to room, visiting the residents, and adding a little something extra to everyone's day.

"I like dogs," resident Doris Fritschie said. "This helps you pass the time, looking forward to [her] coming in."

Administrator Debbie Fort adopted Lucy several months ago as part of a culture change program. She said the pup has already helped residents make big strides.

"A resident that had a stroke in our short-term rehab, she was petting the dog, and the therapist said, 'No, let's pet it with the other hand,' which was the affected hand from the stroke, and she struggled. But, she raised her hand, and started petting the dog," Ford said.

So, while Lucy may be small, she's making a big impact.

"I know that we are taking care of patients not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually," Fort said. "Through pet therapy, that's just one other avenue we can do that."

She's also giving the residents more energy.

"She's fast," Hannah Overbey said. "I can't always keep up with her."

Similar culture change programs are being encouraged throughout the state of Arkansas in efforts to make residents feel more at home.