Dogs have been used to give accident and emergency staff working at Northumberland’s emergency hospital a much needed morale boost.
And for some the positive effect of meeting the four-legged friends turned tears to smiles after working particularly difficult shifts in what are still dark days for the NHS.
Wag and Company brought their welfare dogs to the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital (NSECH) in Cramlington at the request of accident and emergency matron, Rachael Heeley. The animals met staff finishing their busy shift as well as those who were just starting.
Read more: Northumbria Healthcare thanks every single member of staff for their ongoing efforts
The charity has also visited North Tyneside General Hospital and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s offices at Cobalt in recent months. It also offers ongoing support for people in their own homes on a one-to-one basis following referrals from the trust.
Nigel Gray and his American cockapoo Whitley, who both volunteered for Wag and Company, accompanied Northumbria Healthcare’s Bright charity, which organized and provided funding for the visits, in greeting more than 100 staff in total throughout their special visit at NSECH.
Nigel said: “I feel so privileged to be able to meet with our NHS staff who are providing life-saving care under significant pressures. Some of the nurses were coming off their nightshift in tears because they had had such a difficult shift, but they were all so thrilled to see Whitley and were leaving with smiles on their faces. It was so rewarding to know we were making that small difference.”
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Rachael added: “I want to say a huge thanks to Nigel and Whitley for taking the time to come and see us. It was a wonderful experience and our staff were still talking about it for days afterwards.
“We have received some fantastic feedback and the team have all been raving about Wag and Company and how thankful they are for the emotional support at such a difficult time.”
Wag and Company is a charity specializing in dog-befriending services for older dog lovers in their own homes, as well as in care or in hospitals, to help combat loneliness, isolation and bereavement. All of the dogs are appraised by highly qualified volunteer assessors to ensure their suitability and safety.
Northumbria Healthcare has worked in partnership with Wag and Company since 2018, dubbing it the Doggies on Prescription service – initially to provide some canine companionship to older people in the community. Wag and Company continued to support older people in their own homes throughout the pandemic in different ways, returning to physical visits as soon as they could in the spring and summer of 2021.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Wag and Company also visited patients and staff on certain wards and it is hoped that these visits can be relaunched soon.