By Mary Morris, Team Manager

Last September we launched the resource Animal Magic, which showcases the positive benefits for people when animals are involved in their care setting. Since then we have had an amazing response to this resource and we hope that it is inspiring services across Scotland to think about how animals can help promote the best outcomes for people experiencing care.

For me, working on this resource was a labour of love and something I believe in passionately. I know from my own background working with traumatised children the potential difference that caring for and being around animals can make. My own pets make a huge difference to my quality of life and this was really brought home to me when I had to rest up for several weeks following a knee injury. I noticed how much calmer and happier I felt when I was with our cats, Holly and Dougal, and our black Labrador Sadie. I also noticed how they seemed to know I was hurt, needed cheering up and adapted their behaviours. Usually Sadie is very boisterous and fetches her lead when she sees me but instead she sat down next to me and gave me her paw.

Shared experiences

This resource gets alongside the shared experiences of children and adults who experience care by telling their stories. The online publication features 15 services ranging from very young children to older people living with dementia. It is really inspiring to hear directly from people about the powerful difference having animals in their lives makes for them.

Producing Animal Magic was a collaborative team effort by people across all the services involved and within the Care Inspectorate. Once we started working on this, just about everyone I approached for support responded with such enthusiasm and had a certain glint in their eyes because the messages resonate with them.

Working and engaging with so many different people and picking up on their enthusiasm and motivation for the project was a great experience. The key message we heard again and again from people is that being around animals helps connect them with others. From my own perspective, being involved in this project has helped me make positive and rewarding connections too.

This resource also offered us a great opportunity to make the links to the Health and Social Care Standards and bring them to life through real practice examples. I hope this helps people gain a better understanding of how radical the new standards are and the potential they have to make such a huge difference to thinking and ways of working.

We are continuing to spread the message about Animal Magic. For example, we presented a workshop on the resource at the Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care (SIRCC) annual conference in June last year, along with Millie and Amber from Land Street and two of our young inspection volunteers, Carrie-Ann and Toni. To amplify the messages we were lucky enough to be joined by Carrie-Ann’s dog, Tally. This workshop was well received and we have been asked to run it again this year at another SIRCC event. We will also be delivering the plenary session at the Care Inspectorate’s Involvement conference in March.

In Animal Magic, people have told us that being around and caring for animals helps them to relax, it provide companionship, enhances their relationships, gives them a positive focus, encourages them to be active and can make them feel happier. I think there is something special and magical about animals and I know this resource allows these messages to be heard and taken forward.

We are interested in hearing from you if you have been inspired by the resource to bring some Animal Magic into your service. Please send your stories to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • Animal Magic is available on The Hub website.
  • We have produced 18 short documentary videos to accompany Animal Magic. Both care staff and people experiencing care, in all kinds of settings, tell us their own stories of the benefits animals bring to their service and how they made it work. You can watch these videos on our YouTube channel.