Southern Health welcomed four furry friends and their owners to a ‘PATnic’ (Pets as Therapy Picnic) at Southfield hospital at Tatchbury Mount. The day was complete with music, food and giant outdoor games.
Roger Hammett, the volunteer area co-ordinator for PAT in this area, and his Labrador Kimmy have been visiting regularly to Southfield for around a year, as well as other locations in the area including Austen House, Bluebird House and Ashford, bringing smiles to the residents and staff alike.
Roger was full of praise for the staff and service users at Southfield. “I come here every week and I thoroughly enjoy it. I always see the smiles on people’s faces when we arrive, it really does change people’s lives to experience the love these dogs give.”
His four-legged team for the day included Gunner and Milo, both springer spaniels, and Ernie, a standard wired dachshund, as well as their hard-working owners – all four dogs were on their best behaviour, even with all the treats on offer!
One of the service users at the PATnic commented afterwards, “The PATnic was great fun. The dogs were really nice too, I would love to see them again”
Katherine Curley, an Occupational Therapist at Southfield, was delighted that the dogs could once again visit Southfield’s service-users. “It’s amazing therapy for our patients, it helps them emotionally regulate and gives them a fun element of something new that they don’t see every day. It also gives them the opportunity to meet other people and be involved in something outside of the service. Not to mention, all our staff look forward to seeing the pooches!”
Much like taking a driving test, all dogs are assessed to make sure they are suitable for the task before they can work at PAT. This can includes desensitising the dogs to loud noises, training them not to jump up when greeted or to pull on a lead when on a walk – all of which could be potential hazards when visiting care homes and other healthcare facilities.
Pets as Therapy are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year and will be doing more events similar to this PATnic nationwide. Visit https://petsastherapy.org/ to find out more about the work the dogs and their owners do and find out if your dog could be a therapy dog too!