Hospitals are scary places for kids. They’re full of bright lights, loud noises, people hidden behind masks and procedures that hurt.
Needles, IVs, chemotherapy, stitches, casts…all the reasons for being at a hospital are negative in a child’s eyes and most people’s eyes, too .
They have funny smells, endless hallways and people scurrying in and out of rooms, always in a hurry.
But one hospital in the United Kingdom is working hard to break that connotation for kids so that their visits aren’t so scary.
Meet Milo, Hattie, Quinn, Jessie, Leo and Archie. They are gorgeous Golden Retrievers who make rounds at Southampton Children’s Hospital to help alleviate pediatric patients’ fears with the help of the volunteer-run Animal Assisted Intervention team up to five times a week.
The furry friends love to cuddle with the kids and always draw a smile on their faces, even when they’re scared. The six dogs have become an invaluable asset to the hospital.
When a little boy was too frightened to put on a mask, one of the therapy dogs swooped in to help.
“One of the therapy dogs was happy to poke his nose in a spare mask and have a sniff.”
Lyndsey Uglow, a volunteer and “dog mom” at Southampton, told Yahoo News Australia that as soon as the little boy saw the dog using the mask, he decided he could be brave enough to give it a try.
When the medical team realized how much better pediatric patients felt with the dogs by their side, showing them how procedures would progress, they just knew the dogs had to stay on staff.
Jessie showed a patient how an echocardiogram would proceed, earning a few belly rubs for her assistance.
“All you do is lie back and hold your mum’s hand while the lady puts a scanner on your chest and the picture pops up on the screen.”
The pooches have adorably modeled how to properly pose for an X-ray, how to hold still for an MRI and pull oodles of giggles out of the pint-sized patients.
“She is very happy to lie on her back and have her tummy rubbed.”
The dog-tors set an amazing example for the kids to follow and significantly curb their anxiety.
“Our records of therapy dog activity show that the teams have visited more than 1,900 patients in a year, with AAI used more than 550 times here at the hospital and this number continues to rise.”
Staff also have photographed and videotaped the puppers participating in the procedures for the kids to watch beforehand.
“The children seem to trust them, and for many, the fact that the dog has done it too (had an X-ray) persuades them that it is okay.”
A study published in the British Journal of Nursing proved what Southampton Children’s Hospital has known all along…
“Children who were previously nervous around dogs reported less fear as a result of the visits.”
Two hundred staff and parents were surveyed during a 12-month period, indicating that the presence of dogs reduced anxiety in young patients when waiting for tests, investigations and examinations.
“While we had received constant positive anecdotal feedback from patients, families and staff, to really establish AAI in the healthcare setting we needed to strengthen the evidence behind it. The results of this survey have confirmed that the initiation of a formal therapy dog service in an acute UK children’s hospital environment has been overwhelmingly positive and supported by patients, parents and staff.”
What an awesome service the hospital is offering its youngest patients!
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Source: Yahoo News Australia