London hospital calls for four-legged volunteers

Therapy dogs have “the ability to lift the mood of a whole ward.”

Matt Bodell
27 February 2020
Harvey

Pet therapy can improve a patient’s mood and clinical outcome.

King’s College Hospital in London is calling on local dog owners to become a Pets As Therapy volunteers.

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There is evidence to suggest that pet therapy can not only improve the mood of patients but also their overall clinical outcomes through improved motivation and rehabilitation.

Dog owners can sign up to volunteer through the Pets as Therapy charity, and all volunteer dogs need to complete an assessment. Owners also need to undertake training and DBS checks to volunteer at the hospital.

Lucy Ferman-Moore from Dulwich, who volunteers with Harvey (pictured), said: “Harvey is a familiar face on hospital wards, and he brings everyone a lot of joy. Many patients have pets at home that they’re missing, and Harvey puts a huge smile on their face.”

Harvey is one of 14 dogs who visit patients, visitors, and staff on the wards.

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He brightens up people’s day.

Lucy added: “As a local resident, King’s College Hospital has a special place in my heart. My three children were born here, one very prematurely, and received outstanding care. When I retired, I wanted to give something back.

“I could see how much people love being around Harvey, and it’s a great feeling when he brightens up someone’s day. He has the ability to lift the mood of a whole ward. I’d encourage any dog owners with some time to spare to get involved.”

Petula Storey, Head of Volunteering at King’s College Hospital, said: “Harvey has a very calm and gentle nature, which makes him a real hit with young children, as well as our older patients.

“Animals can have a real benefit to our wellbeing, and so many of our patients find comfort and stress- relief just sitting with Harvey.

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“We’d love to hear from anyone with a few hours to spare and a dog they’d like to share with our patients.”

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