A NEW volunteer was eager to lend a paw to help patients at St Cross Hospital.
Rocco, a nine-year old chocolate labrador, has become a weekly regular to the hospital as a Pets As Therapy dog, helping to keep patients company.
After a successful first visit last month, Rocco’s owners Hilary and Steve Farndon have now signed up as volunteers for University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust, and plan to visit St Cross every Monday.
Pets are not normally allowed into the hospital, except for guide dogs or registered therapy dogs, and have to be assessed to see if they have the right temperament to meet with patients.
Hospital staff also ensured full infection control procedures were followed throughout, and made sure Rocco is unable to visit areas where patients are particularly unwell.
Hilary said: “Rocco is really laid back, and when we told our friends he was becoming a therapy dog, they all said he’d be perfect.
“We’ve been volunteering with Pets As Therapy for three years. At first we visited care homes and schools, where Rocco helps children increase their confidence in reading aloud. Then the UHCW Volunteers got in touch about visiting St Cross and we jumped at the chance.
“It’s lovely to be able to help patients, and it’s also a nice thing for us to do together with Rocco.”
Chris Seddon, Modern Matron at UHCW NHS Trust, said: “We’re really pleased to introduce our patients to their new pedigree chum. People don’t expect to see a dog in a hospital, but his visits so far have been really popular with our patients, as well as our staff.
“There have been quite a lot of studies into the theraputic benefits of pets. Many of our patients have pets at home that they miss, so it’s great that Rocco is lending a paw to make them feel more comfortable.”
Rocco is not the first animal volunteer to visit patients at the UHCW NHS Trust. Fellow Pets As Therapy dog, Biddy the labradoodle, is a regular visitor to University Hospital and earlier this year, a local pet store brought guinea pigs and rabbits to meet young patients in the children’s wards as part of Play in Hospital week.
For more information about volunteering at UHCW NHS Trust, contact Kristine Horne, Head of Voluntary Services, on 024 7696 5147 or [email protected].