A new kind of healthcare assistant has been recruited at Derriford Hospital – in the form of a therapy dog.
Henry, an 11-year-old Golden Retriever, has been visiting patients on the elderly ward to help with their treatment and recovery.
As a registered therapy dog, Henry visits once or twice a week with his owner, Christine Gentle, and has started to make a difference to patients who are often on the ward for long periods of time.
Gerald Pearce, a patient on Hartor ward, loves being visited by the happy canine.
He said: “We were told that Henry is part of the staff on the ward here right away.
“He helps me with my day and it’s lovely to have him on the ward. He gives us a change, a break up to the day and it makes it something a little bit different than the ordinary ward.”
And the presence of their new-found friend hasn’t been lost on the staff either: “Henry’s visits are enjoyable for all the staff too and it is a great boost to morale – it’s real therapy,” said Teresa Beer, ward manager for Hartor.
“He provides a calming effect on what can be a very busy ward. We all love having him here.
“It’s quite amazing as we have found that some of our patients who suffer with dementia remember Henry week after week. Sometimes he will go around and sit by a patient’s bed, allowing them to stroke him whilst he sits there happily, and others like to feed him dog biscuits.”
“We have longer stay patients than most wards so the days can become long and monotonous, we have a beautiful day room with a television but not all of our patients are able to move away from their beds. Henry comes in after lunch and offers a glimmer of hope and normality to those who are familiar with having animals at home or have grown up with animals. We feel truly honoured to be able to provide such a wonderful experience for our patients.”
Henry’s impact has been further felt alongside the introduction of the new day room on the ward. Sam Woollaston, physiotherapist at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust added: “Henry helps with the social interaction of the patients at lunch club in the newly refurbished day room.
“His presence encourages patients to socialise and talk together, and they really chirp right up when they see Henry. He’s making a very real, positive difference here.”
Read more at http://www.plymouthherald.co.uk/derriford-hospital-s-dog-visitor-is-helping-patients-feel-better/story-30374627-detail/story.html#atSXfIDOm0Zi7OmD.99