Pets As Therapy dog MollyPatients at the Royal Free Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital have been enjoying the comfort of pets as part of their hospital stay or recovery. The initiative, which has recently restarted at the Royal Free Hospital following a 10 year gap, was re-instated with the support and encouragement of 8 West's sister Caroline Cahill and Julie Meddings, divisional director of nursing, who contacted Pets As Therapy (PAT) directly. Participating wards so far have included elderly, stroke and neurology, re-enablement wards and the Ian Charleson Day Centre clinic. 

Sister Cahill said: “It’s been great getting PAT back at the hospital. Since last November, five dogs and their owners have been visiting the hospitals regularly and have made such a difference to some of our most vulnerable patients. They currently visit our stroke and elderly wards every week and put a smile on everyone’s face – patients, staff and visitors. The joy it brings to the patients is amazing!”

The initiative has been established in conjunction with the Royal Free Charity voluntary services department, who provide trained volunteers to facilitate the visits. Four volunteers at Chase Farm Hospital are on hand to assist each session, where the dogs are made available to patients as part of rehabilitation for physiotherapy services. At Barnet Hospital, a very special dog called Nym is on the waiting list to start visits soon with her owner Sian Porter, specialist maxillofacial and orthodontic nurse at the hospital. We'll have more about Nym in the coming weeks.

Pets As Therapy dog Memphis

Elaine Donnellon, voluntary services manager said:  “These adorable dogs bring so much joy to the patients; it’s been a real pleasure working with ward staff to make this happen at the Royal Free London. All of the dogs have such good temperaments as they have passed the relevant health, obedience and temperance assessments at PAT. At the moment this is mainly just ward based but we have had so many requests from staff in other areas, we are looking into possibly expanding the service later in the year.” 

Pets As Therapy is a national charity founded in 1983. It is a community based charity providing therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools and a variety of other establishments from volunteers with their pet dogs and cats.

For more information about PAT visit their website.

Images: Top - Pets As Therapy dog Molly. Bottom - Pets As Therapy dog Memphis.


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About the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust

The Royal Free began as a pioneering organisation and continues to play a leading role in the care of patients. Our mission is to provide world class expertise and local care. In the 21st century, the Royal Free London continues to lead improvements in healthcare. 

The Royal Free London attracts patients from across the country and beyond to its specialist services in liver, kidney and bone marrow transplantation, haemophilia, renal, HIV, infectious diseases, plastic surgery, immunology, vascular surgery, cardiology, amyloidosis and scleroderma and we are a member of the academic health science partnership UCLPartners.

In July 2014 Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital became part of the Royal Free London. Read: "A bigger trust, a better future."