Pet therapy having positive impact on Stockport patients

Pet therapy visits to patients in Stockport NHS hospital wards are providing comfort, psychological support – and a much-needed endorphin release – for those who need it most.

Two cockapoos named Paddy and Pippa have been visiting patients over the last year. 

Their owners, Charli and Aaron Tighe, signed them up for the Pets as Therapy programme after seeing the positive effect their presence had on a friend’s husband who had been in hospital over an extended period of time.

Paddy and Pippa have proved popular among patients. Pictures: Stockport NHS Foundation Trust

Pet therapy is an established way of helping patients relax by letting them interact with friendly animals. It can release endorphins which create a calming effect, and can help reduce stress, alleviate pain, and provide psychological support. Of course, only patients who want to pet the dogs will do so.

Charli said: “It is incredible what the power of a visit from a dog can do, providing unconditional love and comfort in a time when you are bored and unwell. By having a visit from a loving pet, it provides a change in their day and creates joy and happiness.”

Paddy and Pippa have spent time with patients at several sites and wards including Stepping Hill Hospital’s stroke unit, Treehouse children’s ward, Bobby Moore and Lauren Suite cancer wards as well as the Devonshire centre for neuro-rehabilitation patients.  

Charli said: “In a time where people can be feeling extremely low, these visits give a bit of joy and happiness. Sometimes patients cannot articulate how they feel, but just by their body language, we know the visit has had a positive impact on them.

“For the staff, it provides a moment of light relief. They work so hard and to have a moment of kisses and cuddles during a busy and stressful shift I hope gives them the boost they need to continue doing the amazing work that they do.”

The organised visits are co-ordinated by a volunteer service together with the Pets as Therapy charity. Special visits are also arranged for occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Dementia Action Week and Mental Health Awareness Week.

Paddy and Pippa are two of eight dogs currently signed up to volunteer but there is always room for more.  If you have a friendly dog and are interested in therapy visits yourself, then check out the national Pets as Therapy website or call the hospital volunteer’s office on 0161 419 5400.

Related Articles