Member Spotlight – Kathleen Jones, exploring the benefits of animal-assisted therapy

Kathleen Jones, CAA member, owner of Professional Audiology Clinic in Edmonton, Alberta.

This past year, Kathleen and her colleagues have been exploring the benefits of animal-assisted therapy as part of their audiology clinic.
With the increasing pressure to see more patients, manage costs, and support a positive patient experience, they wondered how animal-assisted therapy can complement the overall patient experience while still completing essential clinical tasks with the patient. Programs such as “Caring Canines” a program for patients and families at the Mayo clinic has shown to make patients feel peaceful, happy and relaxed. This program inspired Kathleen to try out pet therapy at her clinic and let a dog be a part of their patients’ journey.

Meet Murphy
Murphy is a 2-year-old Havanese, a breed of dogs known to be outgoing, cheerful, affectionate, and intelligent. Murphy loves meeting, greeting and interacting with new people. Although there are many benefits to pet assisted therapy, Kathleen recognized that were considerations and cautions with having Murphy at the clinic. These include being aware of patient’s animal-related allergies, phobias and unexpected aggression to animals. The staff at Professional Audiology developed a contingency plan for these situations, so staff can quickly and appropriately react and control situations before becoming a negative experience for the patient.

Murphy and Stella
Stella, is a six-year-old girl with autism. She receives regular audiology follow up appointments at Professional Audiology Clinic. Because of autism, sensory experiences for Stella can be challenging. Audiology appointments can become stressful for both her and her family. Murphy first met Stella at the clinic when he noticed her sitting on the floor in the clinic waiting room.

Murphy “army crawled” his way over to Stella and in his own way, asked her to pet him. Immediately they became friends! While Stella held Murphy in her arms, the audiologist was able to perform difficult tasks such as cerumen management and taking earmold impressions with ease.

This was an “ah ha” moment for Kathleen and her colleagues. They knew Murphy could positively influence their patient’s clinic experiences.

Murphy and Ellie
Ellie is an elderly woman who has hearing loss and receives her hearing care at Professional Audiology Clinic. Ellie expressed that she loved coming to the clinic because of Murphy. Murphy and Ellie became fast friends.

Ellie asked to have her picture taken with Murphy so that she could place it on her fridge at home. For Ellie, interacting with Murphy at her audiological appointment brought her happiness, decreased her stress, and reduced anxiety.

Kathleen Jones is an audiologist and has owned Professional Audiology Clinic since 2001. Kathleen and her colleagues provide a full range of audiology services for children and adults.