Four-Legged Friend Brings Cheer to Local Patients

Patients in NHS Forth Valley are set to get a new furry visitor in the next few weeks.

Oscar will soon be wagging his tail round the inpatient wards at Stirling Community Hospital as he takes on his role as resident Therapet.

The four year old Tibetan terrier will visit patients in the hospital, accompanied by owner Claire Jones, as part of a new service designed to bring comfort and happiness to people in hospital. Patients will be able to pamper and pet Oscar, and maybe feed him a little treat too! Oscar also has the added bonus of being hypoallergenic so those with allergies need not worry.

Research has shown that the stroking of animals relieves anxiety, slows down the heartbeat and reduces blood pressure. It also makes someone who has already suffered a heart attack, much less likely to have another.

Oscar and Claire are volunteering with Canine Concern Scotland, a Charitable Trust which runs the Therapet scheme. All dogs undertake training as part of the service, to make sure they are suitable for the task. Trustee and Local Area Representative for Canine Concern, Lynsey Thomson said: “Dogs have so much love to give and the Therapet service offers patients the chance to have their spirits lifted, by a friendly loving dog, while in hospital.”

One patient, Jane Hirst from Grangemouth was delighted to spend time with Oscar and reminisced of pet dogs that she has owned in the past.

Avril Magill, Clinical Nurse Manager for NHS Forth Valley said: “The Therapet service will not only give patients something to look forward to, it will also have a great impact on their wellbeing, whilst encouraging involvement and participation.”

“It is increasingly being recognised how much people miss having pets around and the comfort and joy that they bring. The mere act of stroking a dog can stimulate interest in someone who has previously not communicated in another way.”

While the service will initially visit Stirling Community Hospital, discussions are underway on arranging Therapet visits to Falkirk Community Hospital in the near future.

Pictured left to right with Oscar are NHS Forth Valley Nursing Assistant Juliette Marshall, patient Jane Hirst, Therapets volunteer Claire Jones and Trustee and Local Area Representative Lynsey Thomson.