Visits are 60 to 90 minutes in length and involve both group and one-on-one sessions.
Freely contributing their time, expertise and hearts, the volunteer's role is vital. They are not involved in a social visit and they must be prepared to communicate through their pet with people who may be withdrawn, disoriented or severely physically or cognitively disabled.
The patient who responds to a pet may go on to communicate with the volunteer, staff, other patients and family members. However, for many of the people PALS visits, verbal communication skills are non-existent so contact with a PALS pet becomes even more important.
During the past years, PALS volunteers have made many breakthroughs. Patients have given response after not having spoken for months; depressed, unresponsive people have reached out to connect with the pets; and people considered to be immobile have turned towards or made physical contact with a PALS pet.