The well-being of people with disabilities. Read more >>

August 5, 2018
Category: Blog

Sitting on a train towards Höör, on my way to visit Daglig Verksamhet (DV) in Höör. It’s going to be an exciting day to get to visit this wonderful establishment, where people with all different kinds of disabilities can get a meaningful occupation.

When I get to Höör I meet up with Lollo Jönsson and Kristina Ermansson who works at DV.

At DV there’s a big love for pets amongst the citizens (the visitors/ users of this facility). Four dogs work here every day. And that all of the dogs’ feel an important role here, there’s no doubt about. The dogs work as a “treat” for the citizens when something is difficult.

Lollo and Kristina tell me they’ve witnessed many fantastic moments between the citizens and the dogs.

One such instance being one of the citizens getting a new assistant. But the citizen felt uneasy about the new situation, so he had started kicking and fighting. There was nothing the ordinary staff could do either to change the situation. Then the personal thought to bring over one of the dogs and almost instantly the situation calmed down.

Kristina goes on to talk about how the dogs help the citizens who struggle with worry, anxiety, and panic. When they experience either emotion the citizen usually walks into the dog-room and sit down on the sofa and picks up a dog and sit them on their lap. That’s when something magic happens, says Kristina. All worry and anxiety runs of the citizens like water.

One of the citizens experiences major anxiety attacks and has on their own found a way to calm down the attack, be being together with the dogs in the dog-room.

With the dogs, one could also get to practice empathy exercises. To learn to take a lot of responsibility surrounding everything that’s got to do with the dogs is also an exercise practiced in the dog-group.

Lollo tells me that it is very important that the dogs get their own room at DV. They too need some alone time sometimes and to rest, just like us humans. Lollo goes on to say that, the citizens have to be able to make an active choice to be with the dogs or not.

I ask Lollo how the dogs seem to enjoy their days at the facility?

She says they howl with excitement when they get close to DV in the mornings. And to the citizens, it seems more important to say hello to the dogs first in the morning before they say hi to the staff.

If an argument were to rise between two citizens they may go into the dog-room together with personal to sit down and try to solve the conflict. It seems much easier to solve conflicts if we sit with the dogs, says Lollo. Sometimes the citizens can have a hard time “reading” faces and instead they can utilize the dogs to find new ways to discuss varying problems. You can learn to handle fear via the dogs. For example, it could be scary to pick up after the dogs, but with practice, even that can be okay. Via the dogs there arises new opportunities and solutions.

The dogs who work at DV are both allergy friendly and easy to hold in a lead during walks. This group has been in existence for 5 years and Lollo says they have many visitors who come to experience the dog-group because they are curious as to how it works.

There are more groups here at DV than the dog-group and I’d like to know more about those.

– Sound and image group, who amongst other stuff makes blogs, series, radio- podcasts and movies.

– service group, who fixes and renovates old furniture left over by people in the county, that then get returned to the county once done. They help unpack groceries from Citygross, built insect-hotels and so on…

– the office group, who structures up the week, for example, the give out instructions on how to wash a dog.

– the experience group, who works with all of the different senses. An example is that this group bakes.

– a business group, who works at different companies and the dog- group falls into this group. Here you can learn about taking care of the dog’s fur, go for a walk with the dogs, learn to take responsibility for a pet and visit a dog- “kindergarten”/ dog sitter, here the citizens help out twice a week.

As a closing statement Lollo says she thinks it’s cool to get to see someone with let’s say autism and can’t show empathy, can show that towards the dogs. There’s always something to talk about here at DV. If Lollo has been with the dogs to a dog show, the citizens want to know how it went. We would be so “poor” without the dogs here at DV. There are they who only come here because they get to meet the dogs.

And Kristina tells me that for her she has gotten to work with the two things she’s passionate about. Both people within LSS and animals at the same time. It’s about time to head back to Malmö again. My experience is that this is a fantastic place. Where many problems in our everyday lives can be solved with the help of those dogs. The dog take in how people are feeling and are experts in my opinion on consoling and helping people. Even if you can’t “talk” to a dog, you can communicate in so many other ways. Sometimes we don’t know how, but it just happens, a communication and understanding between human and dog. Here at DV the dogs help to find solutions to problems, creates a well-being and even helps citizens with anxiety attacks.

// Rose-Marie Axelsson

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