AAI in practice

Applying guidelines for Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI) in practice is not always easy. Various factors, such as the financial aspect, internal regulations, support from management, staff motivation, the existing infrastructure, the type of patients, the animals’ health, etc. can make following the guidelines difficult. With these guidelines, we hope to create a basis for starting a projectthat comes as close to the ideal situation as possible. Once the project is up and running, the guidelines can be used as a support for ongoing evaluation and determining where, if necessary, modifications must be made.

Starting up an AAI project on your own is impossible. Various actors must be invited to a meeting to review these guidelines. According to experience, education, interest and the role each would like to play, the guidelines will be progressively allocated (as far as possible). For this reason, the guidelines have been categorised per subject. All guidelines are formulated so that they are applicable for both Animal Assisted Activities (AAA) and Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) in diverse care environments. After several categories, a number of additional guidelines follow for specific situations, such as AAI in hospitals.

The guidelines begin with recommendations for AAI with dogs because they are used most often in AAI. For the sake of the dog’s welfare, it is not recommended that the dog live in the care facility on a permanent basis. These guidelines have therefore been drawn up for dogs visiting the facility or that are semi-residential (go home with their owner).

Because cats, with a few exceptions, become very stressed during transport and have difficulty adapting to new environments, we recommend that cats live as permanent residents in the care facility. The guidelines for cats are thus drawn up for cats living permanently in a care facility.

Other animals can also be used in AAI such as petting zoo animals. Guidelines for these cases are still being drawn up.

The more all of those involved are taken into account, the better the chance that both the people and the animals will benefit, and the more sustainable the project will be.

Good luck!

You can find the guidelines per subject by clicking the animals below. Below are a few examples of AAI projects.