Skip to main content


Beyond Routine: A Unique Journey to a Long-Term Care Facilities in Canada

10 May 2024

 Sensory engagement for long-term care residents in Minden, Ontario, Canada with Jennifer and her ponies

Challenges in the field of Human-Animal Interactions are abundant internationally. Nonetheless, Jennifer Semach, owner of Walkabout Farm remains steadfast in her commitment to providing a horse program for long-term care residents in Minden, Ontario, Canada. The Recreational Equine Assisted Participation (R.E.A.P) program by Walkabout Farm Therapeutic Riding Association is a recent initiative. During Dr. Irene Hartigan's visit to McMaster University, collaboration with Prof. Sharon Kaasalainen is underway to enhance palliative care for older individuals, while also exploring the sensory aspects of care as outlined in Namaste Care.

Dr Irene Hartigan visited a long-term care facility for older adults, Irene observed firsthand sensory engagement for residents with Jennifer and her ponies. Indeed, Jennifer brought her ponies to the care home, implementing equine-assisted therapy to enhance residents' well-being. Many residents shared stories of horses from their past, reminiscing about their utility. The presence of the horses brought fond memories and joy to the residents, filling the activity room with smiles and laughter.


The rising number of people affected by dementia highlights the need for meaningful activities promoting abilities and environmental support, especially for institutionalized individuals with dementia, to improve Quality of Life. Touch is recognized as a powerful stimulus for engaging those with advanced dementia. The connection between animal welfare, human well-being, and environmental stewardship resonates on various levels. The collaborative, interdisciplinary nature of these approaches presents unprecedented opportunities for professionals from diverse disciplines and stakeholders to synergize efforts toward optimizing the health and welfare of both people and animals, as well as preserving the environment.


At Hyland Crest, a 62-bed Long-Term Care facility in Minden, staff prioritized enhancing residents' Quality of Life through attention to environmental factors, the activities board had so much to choose from. Incorporating equine visits into activities underscores their dedication, ensuring residents can interact with ponies whose wellness checks were complete and also were looking dapper. Jennifer's leadership radiates through her testimonials, showcasing her adeptness in communicating with clients of all abilities.


For more on this story contact:

Walkabout Farm, Ontatio Canada

School of Nursing and Midwifery

Scoil an Altranais agus an Chnáimhseachais

Brookfield Health Sciences Complex College Road Cork, Ireland , T12 AK54