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Patient pet therapy - perking up patients with dogs Paddy and Pippa  

30 Apr 2024 - Press Release


Patients on Stockport NHS hospital wards are having their stay cheered up with visits from two much-loved canine companions.

Paddy and Pippa are two cockapoo therapy dogs who have been paying a visit to patients on a number of times over the past year, both at Stepping Hill Hospital and the Devonshire centre for neuro-rehabilitation patients.  

Their owners Charli and Aaron Tighe had the idea of starting the visits after a work colleague, whose husband had been in the Devonshire centre for a long time, explained how much her husband loves dogs enjoyed looking after them while at home.

This led Charli and Aaron to joining up with Paddy and Pippa on the Pets as Therapy programme to pay him a visit, and the involvement led on from there.  

The pair have been very popular on all the wards where they have visited, as well as the Devonshire have included Stepping Hill Hospital’s stroke unit, Treehouse children’s ward, and Bobby Moore and Lauren Suite cancer wards. They even have their own trust name badges to wear while on their visits.

Charli said “It’s fantastic on our visits to seeing the smiles of both patients and staff faces. As soon as they see Paddy and Pippa, people`s faces light up. People want to share stories about their own dogs. In a time where people can be feeling extremely low, these visits give a bit of joy and happiness. Sometimes patients cannot articulate how they feel, but just by their body language, we know the visit has had a positive impact on them.”

Pet therapy is an established way of helping patients relax by letting them interact with friendly animals. It can release endorphins which create a calming effect, and can help reduce stress, alleviate pain, and provide psychological support. Of course, only patients who want to pet the dogs will do so.

Paddy and Pippa are just two of eight different pet therapy volunteer dogs who visit patients at the hospital, organised with the help of the volunteer service together with the Pets as Therapy charity. Special visits are also arranged for occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Dementia Action Week and Mental Health Awareness Week.

Charli added “It is incredible what the power of a visit from a dog can do, providing unconditional love and comfort in a time when you are bored and unwell. By having a visit from a loving pet, it provides a change in their day and creates joy and happiness. For the staff, it provides a moment of light relief. They work so hard and to have a moment of kisses and cuddles during a busy and stressful shift I hope gives them the boost they need to continue doing the amazing work that they do.”

If you have a friendly dog and are interested in therapy visits yourself, then check out the national Pets as Therapy website or call the hospital volunteer’s office on 0161 419 5400.  

Paddy and Pippa with their trust name badges
The pair are popular with staff as well as patients and visitors

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