Super furry animals drop by to help patients at Doncaster mental health unit

Pictured with Lila are physiotherapist Emma Shaw, Pets as Therapy volunteer Rosemary Copsey and clinical lead occupational therapist Tracy Pawson.
Pictured with Lila are physiotherapist Emma Shaw, Pets as Therapy volunteer Rosemary Copsey and clinical lead occupational therapist Tracy Pawson.

Patients and staff at two inpatient wards for older people with mental health problems are experiencing therapy of the four-legged kind - as two pet dogs now make regular visits to the facilities.

Pets as Therapy volunteers Rosemary and Shaun Copsey regularly bring along Lila and Simba to visit wards at Coniston and Winderemre Lodge at the Tickhill Road site in Doncaster.

A spokesperson for Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the site, said it is part of a scheme to bring ‘animal assisted therapy’ and to ‘bring joy, comfort and companionship to patients who appreciate being able to touch and stroke a friendly animal.’

Tracy Pawson, RDaSH clinical lead occupational therapist, said many of the patients had already benefited from the new initiative.

She added: “There is growing evidence that interaction with animals can increase levels of chemicals associated with happiness and bonding, while reducing chemicals associated with distress.

“Our patients really enjoy the weekly visits from Lila and Simba, and we’ve experienced some of the most uncommunicative of people suddenly smiling and chatting to the dogs - so we really value the time they kindly spare to spend in our service.”

For more information about RDaSH services visit https://www.rdash.nhs.uk