2 posts tagged “patient support”

Service, therapy and emotional support animals: What’s the difference?

Posted 4 months ago by

When it comes to living with a chronic condition, animal companions can add another layer of comfort, safety and service. So, we’re opening up a conversation about therapy, emotional support and service animals, and the differences between them. Do you have an animal? Join the community and share a pic of your pet using the hashtag #PLMPets.

Service animals

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) a service animal is “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual or other mental disability”. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not considered service animals.

Examples of work tasks might be things like:

  • Helping individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation
  • Alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds
  • Helping individuals with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors
  • Check out more tasks here.

If you bring your service animal somewhere, any public entity or private business is allowed to ask you two questions to make sure your animal is indeed a service animal:

  1. Is this animal required because of a disability?
  2. What work or task has this animal been trained to perform?

The ADA does not require service animals to be professionally trained. People with disabilities have the right to train the dog themselves and are not required to use a professional service dog training program. State and federal laws differ, so make sure to check out your state’s laws on service animals.

To learn more about service animals and the ADA, check out this resource.

Therapy animals

A therapy animal is a pet that has been trained to interact with many people other than its handler to make those people feel better. Therapy animals often visit patients and residents of facilities like hospitals and nursing homes to cheer up the people living there.Therapy animals and their handlers are not given public access rights like those of service dogs and their owners, because the handler does not always have a disability the dog is individually trained to mitigate. Therapy animal handlers also generally get prior agreement from facilities like hospitals or libraries before visiting.

Some State or local governments have laws that allow people to take therapy and emotional support animals into public places — it’s important to check with your State and local government agencies to find out about these laws.

Emotional support animals

These animals provide companionship and can help with depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions, but don’t need to have any special training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities. While emotional support animals are often used as part of a medical treatment plan to provide therapy to their owners, they’re not considered service animals under the ADA.

If you’re living in the United States and suffer from emotional or mental health conditions, in order to qualify for emotional support animals (ESA) all you need is an official letter written by a licensed mental health professional, like a psychiatrist, licensed clinical social worker, or psychologist. It is required that you must be living with an “emotional or mental disability that is certified by a mental health professional” to receive such a letter.

Do you live with a pet? How has your pet impacted your life? Log in or sign up for PatientsLikeMe to join the conversation.

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What Patients Are Thankful For

Posted November 23rd, 2011 by

Thanksgiving is a time for remembering all the reasons you have to be grateful.  For patients who face numerous health challenges, this can mean reminding yourself of all the things you have gained – not lost – since your diagnosis.

A Snapshot of PatientsLikeMe Members

One theme that we’re especially proud to hear our 120,000+ members express is how thankful they are to have found a community of people who truly “get” them at PatientsLikeMe.  Our founders envisioned a way to connect patients with others just like them – so they could learn from each other, support each other and help accelerate the pace of medical research – and today, it’s become a reality.  Touchingly, it’s also been the start of many important friendships among our members.

Here are some patient stories that moved us this year:

  • “The people on this site deserve more than a simple thank you from me.  The night I found PatientsLikeMe was about eight hours after my neurologists had told me, ‘You have non tremor Parkinson’s disease.’ That night I had some stinking thinking going on.  I considered myself a freak.  Thanks to this site I now consider myself unique.  We are all unique. To my Parkinson’s brothers and sisters, a big THANK YOU for helping me get away from my stinking thinking.”  – Patient with Parkinson’s disease
  • “This is the place where we can wonder what is next, cry about what is now and rant about how unfair it all is to us.  Here we are among friends and patients just like us who know have been there or will be going there. It is so much better for me to be on PatientsLikeMe then to just rant to my family and boyfriend.  I figure we can all listen to someone’s rant as tomorrow it may be us.” – Patient with ALS
  • “I called one of our members for the first time.  We were on the phone for over three hours!  Every connection I’ve made here that has progressed to the phone call stage has been like that.  This is the best, most fun, most supportive group of guys and gals that I think I have ever come across.  At PatientsLikeMe, we may all come from different walks of life, different locations and yes sometimes different opinions, but here we share such a unique and caring bond.  I’m so lucky to have found PatientsLikeMe.” – Patient with fibromyalgia
  • “I have found that I am better able to deal with my moods now that I am able to relate to others with the same/similar problems. It helps to rant. It helps to talk with people who understand. PatientsLikeMe has helped me to understand myself better too. YAY. I love PatientsLikeMe.” – Patient with bipolar II disorder
  • “In large part, my success at escaping that life of depravity, depression and addiction is due to the sense of belonging I found at PatientsLikeMe. I was encouraged, and loved and, yes, even put in my place a few times. Even though my path has been neither straight nor smooth I feel that I have my friends on PatientsLikeMe to thank for the sunlight in my life.” – Patient with HIV

No one should have to go through the experience of chronic illness alone.  If you’ve already realized you’re not alone in your journey, we give thanks for you…and every patient like you.

Happy Thanksgiving!