Pets As Therapy launch at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd

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Left to right: Elaine Mercer-Jones with Finlay, Anne Jones with JJ , Sally Moorhouse with Twix, Pauline Fleming with her cavalier king charges spaniels Doris and Aubrey , Eileen Slattery with Cosmo, and Dawn Cooper of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board
Image caption,
The launch at Glan Clwyd means the service will now be available at other hospitals too

Dogs and cats are to be used to help hospital patients across north Wales.

The Pets As Therapy initiative was launched at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd in Bodelwyddan by former Coronation Street actress Pauline Fleming.

The health board said research showed that animal companionship can help speed up the rate of recovery.

Pets will visit elderly mentally infirm patients, and dementia care, stroke rehabilitation, paediatrics, psychiatric and oncology departments.

Pauline Fleming - who played Mike Baldwin's wife in Coronation Street - was at the hospital as the scheme officially got under way.

The Pets As Therapy (PAT) charity organises visits by volunteer pet owners and their animals to people who are residents in hospitals, hospices, residential homes, nursing homes, day car centres, and special needs schools.

Dawn Cooper, of the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said the charity already had long standing links with the mental health service at Glan Clwyd hospital.

"This new development will ensure patients across the health board will be able to access this service," she added.

The health board said research showed animal companionship could help rehabilitation in a variety of ways.

  • They are excellent ice-breakers with people who do not, or cannot, communicate.
  • Stroking an animal can lower blood pressure and reduce stress levels, which can help people suffering from depression.
  • Interaction with a PAT animal can also help stroke sufferers as even when a person has lost the power of speech.

Pets As Therapy co-ordinator Anne Jones said the volunteers and their dogs looked forward to visiting people missing their own pets while in hospital.

"All our PAT dogs and cats must pass a rigorous independent health and temperament test before they can enter hospital premises," she said.

"Twelve months ago the mental health Ablett Unit at Glan Clwyd hospital introduced Pets As Therapy as part of their 'star wards' project.

"The dogs have been a huge success in the unit and the feedback from the patients has been extremely positive," she added.

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