But the elderly individuals who live in Grace Barker's skilled nursing and assisted living residences simply don't have the wherewithal to care for a pet. "Many aren't able to care for themselves or don't have the proper space to be a pet owner, but their hearts are certainly open to it," states Mary Beth Lescault, co-owner/administrator and director of nursing at Grace Barker Health. "Their eyes light up and their demeanors always change when a pet comes to visit our facilities."
Grace Barker Health purchased a number of "Joy for All" robotic animal companions, a product line originally launched in 2015 by Pawtucket-based Hasbro, Inc. and recently acquired by Ageless Innovation, LLC. These animatronic dogs and cats are designed to provide interactive companionship, comfort, and joy for older adults to combat loneliness, social isolation and cognitive decline. Each battery-operated animal features built-in sensors to respond to motion and touch, a heartbeat that can be felt, realistic fur, and authentic sounds such as barking and purring.
"The response to these Joy For All animals is amazing," states Lescault.