Patients at Stockport’s Stepping Hill Hospital are now getting a regular treat thanks to visits from four legged friends.
Dog visitors to wards are helping to relax them and put them at ease. There are now six separate therapy dogs regularly visiting different areas of both Stepping Hill Hospital and the community hospital settings of the Devonshire Unit on Cherry Tree Street and the Bluebell Unit at the Meadows Hospital in Offerton. A friendly donkey has now joined them too in visiting the Bluebell Unit.
Pet therapy is a way of helping patients relax by the simple of means of letting them interact with friendly animals. It has been shown to release endorphins that produce a calming effect, and can help alleviate pain, reduce stress, and provide psychological support. Of course, only patients who wish to pet the dogs will do so.
Dogs and donkey have been introduced into hospital and the community over the past year. The dogs’ names are Callie, Pep, Thornton, Ivy, Bertie and Daphne, while the donkey’s name is Tiny Tim. Daphne is one recent recruit, a friendly mongrel with a cute face who was saved from the street. Daphne usually visits older patients, while others are assigned to children’s areas. Like the others she has a very gentle nature and has been certified as a ‘Pets as Therapy’ dog.
Pet therapy runs aside other innovative forms of patient support run at Stepping Hill Hospital and the community, including musical therapy, film evenings, hand massages, manicures, craft activities and other ways of making the patient stay as positive as possible.
Emma Rogers, Matron for Patient Experience at Stockport NHS Foundation Trust which runs hospital and community services said “The introduction of pet therapy in the past year has been a real success story. Both the dogs and the donkey have been bringing a lot of joy to a lot of patients. Patients who don’t have so many visitors find them particularly comforting, but they really have got down well across the board. In fact, they have gone down so well that we’re on the lookout for more.”