Meet Hope, the new resident dog at Mercy’s Hallmar residential care facility

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) – Mercy Cedar Rapids has welcomed a new member to its Hallmar family. Hope, a 5-year-old AKC certified Bernese Mountain Dog, recently joined Mercy’s care facility as the first pet.

“We understand that some of our residents had to give up their pets when they moved to Hallmar, and we also saw how much our residents enjoyed the animal therapy visits,” said Tawnya Salsbery, Senior Director of Post-Acute and Senior services said. “So as we continue our cultural shift to move from an institutional care model to a resident-centric environment where residents can live in a domestic setting, we are very excited to launch this new initiative to create additional moments the joy at Hallmar. “

According to the Pioneer Network’s Artifacts of Cultural Shift 2.0 Nursing Homes, pets are among the best practices for community living. Medical research has also shown that pets have significant positive effects on health and wellbeing.

After months of research to find the dog that would best fit the Hallmar community, leaders discovered Kimberlee Kennels in Decorah who were offering to donate Hope to Mercy after they retired from motherhood of puppies. After meeting Hope, Hallmar’s guide decided she would be a great addition.

Once Hope gets used to the Hallmar environment, she will have her own room to sleep in. At some point she has the freedom to walk around, go on the terrace, take the bus and much more. Residents who wish to assist staff with care (brushing, walking, going outside, etc.) are encouraged to do so.

Residents are also invited to take part in activities related to Hope’s arrival and grooming, including a trip to the pet store to choose toys, bake homemade dog biscuits, and more. Residents who prefer not to interact with Hope can opt out of interactions with her.

While Mercy has offered animal therapy for many years, Hope is the organization’s first resident pet.