Everyone knows that a dog is man’s best friend - but now canines are being used on the Fylde coast to help in the treatment of patients.
And Dandy, a six-year- old Staffie cross breed, is certainly making a difference to the wellbeing of patients with his gentle and charming nature.
He helps provide comfort to people who, through illness, are no longer able to keep a pet of their own.
Dandy’s owner, Diane Ogden is a registered nurse and therapist,
She accompanies Dandy on visits and the two are working with care staff to provide support to older patients with multiple health conditions to reduce the need for unplanned hospital visits.
Patients referred to the service, by medical sor social services staff are allocated their own Wellbeing Support Worker who will help draw up a long-term plan for their health, including regular visits from Dandy.
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 said. “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 permanent home.
“He had been in kennels for about eight months when we found him,” 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 benefiting from the extra support.