Boost in morale for Lister patients getting visits from dogs

PUBLISHED: 12:13 05 October 2017

Left to right: Owner Clare Boscawen with Mabel, Sister Angela Bernard and Jayne Abrahams. Picture: East and North Herts NHS Trust

Left to right: Owner Clare Boscawen with Mabel, Sister Angela Bernard and Jayne Abrahams. Picture: East and North Herts NHS Trust

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Patients at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital are benefitting from visits with cuddly companions as the hospital’s Pets As Therapy (PAT) scheme grows.

Clare Boscawen with Mabel and Jayne Abrahams. Picture: East and North Herts NHS Trust Clare Boscawen with Mabel and Jayne Abrahams. Picture: East and North Herts NHS Trust

Patients at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital are benefitting from visits with cuddly companions as the hospital’s Pets As Therapy (PAT) scheme grows.

The hospital has 10 PAT dogs, including two Labradors and a pug, who have spent more than 230 hours visiting nearly 4,500 inpatients across 14 wards this year.

All PAT dogs and owners are volunteers – and while dogs do not need any specialist training, they do need to be obedient and enjoy being around people.

Every dog in the programme has passed an assessment by the Pets As Therapy charity, which ensures they are suitable for work with patients and children.

Lister nurse Angela Bernard, who works on ward 6B, said she had been pleasantly surprised by the scheme’s success.

She said: “When I was first asked whether I wanted my ward to be visited by a PAT dog, I was a little apprehensive.

“Many of our patients, however, are in hospital for long periods of time and some of them are dog owners themselves who miss their pets – so we decided to give it a go.

“Mabel first visited our ward last month, and it was very rewarding to see the smile on patients’ faces when they met her. She’s calm, very friendly and we can’t wait to have her back!”

Mabel, an Irish terrier, passed her assessment six months ago and now plays a big part in providing comfort for the inpatients of renal wards 6A and B.

Her owner Clare Boscawen said: “From the minute I met Mabel, I knew she had the potential to become a PAT dog.

“She’s nearly three years old, but loves to be fussed over and is very happy keeping people company.

“Every Tuesday afternoon she will wait by our front door, because she knows that we’ll soon be leaving to visit patients at Lister.”

To find out more about Pets As Therapy, see petsastherapy.org.

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