As part of our volunteer service, we have several Pets as Therapy (PAT) dogs who visit the hospital. This is a wonderful programme where registered PAT dogs visit our patients to say hello.
Research has suggested that introducing a companion animal into a hospital setting can result in patients feeling more at ease, communicative and more motivated to engage, which we have found to be true.
If you are interested in becoming a PAT volunteer please contact the Pets as Therapy organisation, their website is: https://www.petsastherapy.org/
“When I retired I wanted to do some volunteering and, by being a member of Pets As Therapy, it meant that I could volunteer alongside my dogs.
I thoroughly enjoy my visits to Darent Valley Hospital and have done so for over 10 years, it is the welcome myself, and the dogs get that keeps me visiting.
- the reception from staff, often accompanied by, not only cuddles, but also treats for the dogs
- the smiles and reactions from patients, many of whom are not having the best of times and are often missing their own pets
- the visitors who often tell me what a difference the visits make to their relatives or friends
I truly believe that the visits from the PAT dogs really does make a difference to anybody and everybody who is in the hospital. I pass lots of people when out and about in the corridors and, even if people do not interact with me, I still see a smile go across their face as they spot the dog.”
"Ernie and I love visiting staff and patients at the hospital. We see how it breaks the shift for tired staff and allow them to think about something else even for a brief moment.
It's so rewarding to spend time with patients as well. A lot of patients are missing their pets terribly and spending time with Ernie makes them feel a bit better. We will keep volunteering as seeing smile on people's faces, sometimes their only smile during the whole day, is something that cannot be described. Ernie told me he will keep volunteering as he gets lots of attention, cuddles and biscuits.”
"We find it such a joy to cheer people up with our dog Flo while they are out of their own comfort zone. Nobody wants to be in hospital. Many people have dogs at home they miss, others never have visitors, some just need a hug from something fluffy
And others cry with relief of having Flo visit. Flo seems to reduce the stress levels where ever she goes especially with the nurses. They call her Nanny Flo (because she loves babies). Some older children have called her Doctor Dog. Most of all Nanny Flo really loves her job at the hospital. She pulls to get into the DVH building and her tail wags for ages.”
“We love our volunteering and every visit is different. We’ve met so many staff, patients and visitors since we started volunteering and Toffee and Dixie are really well known across the hospital. They don’t stop wagging their tails on their visits. Alison in Reception always has dog treats waiting for them at the start of their shift and many of the wards do as well. There are even families of patients who have been in hospital a while bringing dog treats in for them!!!
I’ve walked through the corridors of the hospital on my own and everyone is going about their business - what a change when you walk through the hospital with Toffee and Dixie!! Everyone smiles at you, speaks to you, asks to pet the dogs, share their stories with you.
The dogs have got into a habit at the end of their shifts to go to M&S for some wafer thin turkey or chicken. They know exactly where it’s kept and it’s their wages for doing a great job.
Both Phil and I work full time and it is lovely to give something back. It is a privilege to see the difference the PAT visits make. Some patients don’t have any visitors. A doctor, nurse, paramedic, receptionist might be having a tough day and a cuddle with the dogs makes all the difference. The dogs have laid on beds with end of life patients, been under the covers with a child whilst an injection is being administered, ridden on a trolley with a patient to Theatre to calm them and most of all brought smiles. It doesn’t get any better than that!!!”