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Animal Assisted Therapy Project

McCormick Dementia Research


July 6, 2016

Joint Research Project with King’s University College to Study Impact of Animal Assisted Therapy on Dementia-Related Behaviours


A Master of Social Work candidate from King’s University College is researching the impacts of the Nourishing Hearts Animal Assisted Interventions program on managing behaviours exhibited by people with dementia, including any related impacts on the need for pharmacological interventions


McCormick Dementia Research is committed to conducting, supporting, sharing and engaging in research activity that enhances quality of life for people living with dementia and their caregivers. The results from this study will improve our understanding of how to mitigate or minimize behaviours that can occur in people with this condition, including the possibility of reducing the need for behaviour-modifying medications.


The program, which is beginning on July 18, 2016, involves connecting participants in a supervised environment with a variety of therapy animals, including a rabbit, chicken, goat and sheep to help stimulate past farming or other agriculturally-related memories.  The therapy animals have calm and quiet personalities and enjoy interacting with people.  The aim is to encourage participant interaction; to engage a variety of senses through sight, sound, smell and touch; and to study the impact of these responses on the participant’s behaviours.

The study will take place in the Memory Lane dementia care wing of McCormick Home.


The study is being conducted by Master of Social Work candidate Julie Casey, a social worker and animal therapist, in partnership with King’s University College, under the supervision of King’s research advisor and faculty member Dr. Rick Csiernik. Participation is voluntary and consists of attending three one-hour sessions each week for eight weeks. Proper consents have been received and confidentiality of the participants is being strictly maintained.

If you have any questions, please contact Steve Crawford, CEO, McCormick Care Group, at 519-432-2648 ext. 2319, or by e-mail at