Dandy brings smiles to most vulnerable patients

Ruth Knighton, Katie McNuity and Amy Cartmell on Intensive Care with Pet Therapy dog, Dandy.

Patients in Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s Critical Care Unit have the chance to receive pet therapy from a loving Staffordshire terrier called Dandy.

The canine cutie visits patients on the Intensive Care Unit one afternoon a week and is hoping to become a more regular visitor

Before Dandy started his visits, a six-week trial took place involving the dog and his owner Dianne to see if his visits would have a positive impact on patients.

Catherine Ashton, sister on ITU said: “We have seen such a difference to the patients and staff. It’s amazing for Dandy to have such a positive psychological impact.

“The visits can really improve a patient’s mood and we want to use pet therapy for rehabilitation to help shorten stays on ITU.

“Patients build up a rapport with Dandy, as have staff, and moods really are lifted during the afternoon he visits.

“We were given the funding through a pets therapy charity who looked at our case and provided us with a therapy dog.”

Catherine added: “The dogs have to be a minimum of nine-years-old before they can be trained for pet therapy.

“Pet therapy dogs are becoming more common in healthcare, we have found it breaks up the day for the staff, patients and also relatives.

“We can see a drop in a patient’s blood pressure after spending time with Dandy. They are much more relaxed and we are confirming this from their blood pressure readings.

“All areas of the hospital could definitely benefit from a pet therapy dog, especially areas with children.

“Not all patients come into contact with Dandy, we ask them for consent and we assess infections and illness before Dandy arrives.

“Patients usually spend about 15 minutes with Dandy and his owner Dianne. The feedback we receive is very positive and patients feel comforted”.

Practice Development Nurse, Andrew Henson, added: “I was apprehensive at the beginning, but we have really seen patient experience enhance in critical care.

“For some, seeing a dog can lift moods, boost interaction and can offer support to families”.


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