PATs off to Nellie and our four-pawed visitors

We've recently said a big welcome to Nellie the Cavapoo - our first Pets As Therapy (PAT) dog.

Nellie charmed everyone during her first visit to CHFT and the  caramel-coloured cutie wowed staff and patients alike on the Children's Ward.

She's pictured with paediatrician Sal Uka and Sister Fiona Stuttard (in blue) and 3rd Year Student Nurse Alex Newby in our staff photos. 

Becky McMillen, mother of Brodie, pictured in red T-shirt, said: "A brilliant idea.  The children's faces lit up when they saw the dog."

We are hoping to expand canine recruits onto our wards and eventually hold a Puppy Party to thank them and their owners who accompany them.

The dogs' owners need to go through our usual volunteers' vetting procedure and the pets also undergo checks. They need to be nine months old and to have been with their owners for at least six months. They also have a medical and a temperament test where they go to a park so their reactions to bikes, shouting, other dogs and strangers can be assessed. Of course, we recognise that dogs might not be everyone's cup of tea, so take that into consideration for the duration of a visit.

Charlotte Collinson from our Volunteers Office, said: Volunteers already play a vital part in the success of CHFT – often volunteering for physical or mental health benefits. The introduction of Pets as Therapy is yet another opportunity to engage local people for the good of the Trust and for individuals' physical and mental wellbeing, in line with the NHS Long Term Plan for Social Prescribing.”

Her colleague, Anya Macbeth, said: "The Royal College of Nursing actively advocates the introduction of Pets as Therapy. It's no wonder, there were lots of happy faces and it was a welcome break in the normal hospital day for these patients and colleagues. The feedback could not have been better…a few of the children had pets at home who they missed - this prompted conversations and interaction between patients, parents and colleagues.” 

For more information visit www.petsastherapy.org