Everyone knows that dog is man’s best friend…
But now dogs are being used on the Fylde coast to help in the treatment of patients.
And Dandy, a six-year-old staff cross breed, is certainly making a difference to the wellbeing of patients with his gentle and charming way giving emotional, physical and therapeutic comfort to people who may no longer be able to keep pets of their own.
Dandy’s owner, a registered nurse and therapist, Diane Ogden, from The Therapy Company, accompanies her dog on visits and the two are working with the extensive care service which provides proactive support to older patients with multiple health conditions to reduce the need for unplanned hospital visits.
The service sees all doctors, nurses, care co-ordinators and other professionals a patient needs working together as part of one team to help patients understand and manage their conditions and address other issues which may be affecting their overall wellbeing.
Patients referred to the service are allocated their own Wellbeing Support Worker who they meet on a regular basis to develop a long-term plan for their health.
Seventy-four year-old Jacqueline Briggs of Fairhaven had Great Danes for more than 50 years, but when she was widowed her arthritis and a series of falls meant she was unable to have pets of her own.
Jacqueline was referred to the community based Extensive Care Service to help build her confidence with daily tasks and get out into the garden more often. When she heard that the service worked with therapy dogs she asked if one could visit her home.
“I really like dogs, I like their company and giving them a stroke,” Jacqueline explained. “Our dogs used to go everywhere with us and I really miss them. Having Dandy visit is so lovely, he is welcome to come and see me any time.”
And the job is also paying dividends for Dandy who until 18 months ago was in a rescue kennel looking for a forever home.
“He had been in kennels for about eight months when we found him,” owner Diane said. “He was such a good, loving and calm dog and, with my background in therapy and mental health nursing, I thought about using him as a Pets as Therapy (PAT) dog. After training he was registered in January this year.”
Research has shown that introducing a companion into therapy sessions can help patients feel more at ease, communicative and motivated as well as help with cognitive function.
“Stroking dogs can help bring blood pressure down and can help people feel more relaxed,” Diane explained.
Wellbeing Support Worker, Lee Jones, who works for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, said the therapy had worked really well for Jacqueline who was truly benefitting from the range of support provided by the Extensive Care service.
Watch a short video of Dandy with patient, Jacqueline Briggs and owner Diane Ogden, below.