The Intensive Therapy Units (ITU) at the county’s two acute hospitals are receiving visits from therapy dogs to help boost health and wellbeing.
The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH), which runs the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, is working in partnership with national charity Pets As Therapy (PAT) on the initiative which sees volunteers bringing their friendly pets onto wards.
Most recently, the pets have been lifting spirits in ITU where the visits are proving a big hit.
Fiona Jutsum, an ITU Consultant based at SaTH, volunteers at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital along with her Labrador, Pip.
Fiona said: “Therapy animals can have a positive impact on patients and staff physically and psychologically. Studies have shown that therapy animals can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, promote engagement in rehabilitation and ease physiological symptoms.
“The process was very straightforward once you know you have the right dog for the job! It is incredible to see the impact that the dogs have, with many patients requesting repeat visits. Even patients who have been sedated and on ventilators have smiled and stroked the dog.”
Ann-Marie Jones and Jan Jones, the PAT Co-ordinators for SaTH, said: “We have been visiting the hospitals with our therapy dogs for 28 years now and it brings a lot of smiles and happiness to people.
“Along with our dogs Sasha, Suzie and Lewies, we have recently started working with the Critical Care Team to help provide this special therapy.
“We always look forward to seeing the patients and staff and we are already seeing the benefits in ITU. We always say that to place a paw on someone’s knee, that for sure is therapy.”
Hayley Flavell, Director of Nursing at SaTH, said: “We are delighted to be able to welcome therapy dogs into our hospitals. Staying in hospital can be a daunting, but for many people the companionship of an animal is a welcome distraction and a great source of comfort.
“We know that the benefits of therapy dogs are not just limited to the patients; they extend to family members and staff too. I want to thank our wonderful PAT volunteers and their four-legged friends for the difference they are making.”