The Peata Dog Therapy Service, in association with the Volunteer Service and Therapeutic Recreation Service at the NRH, was launched on Wednesday 9th August 2023.
One of the NRH Foundation staff has become a volunteer with her therapy dog Bruce. There are currently four Peata volunteer dogs: Púca, Bruce, Lucy, and Harley; who with their owners visit patients in the NRH. Two more dogs, Luna, and Lily will be joining the team this month.
The presence of the dogs for patients in the NRH can have visible therapeutic value especially if they are missing their own dogs while they are at the NRH. Therapy dogs also can help on occasion alleviate some symptoms of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
The Therapists have seen first hand patients responding to the therapy dogs in ways that had not been seen before. A patient who was non-verbal started talking to one of the therapy dogs, while another patient did his first natural smile when the therapy dog arrived in to visit him. The therapy dogs are booked to meet with patients who will benefit from their visit. Patients with prolonged disorder of consciousness have been having regular visits with the therapy dogs and really enjoy the dog spending time with them.
This new service has been a huge benefit to NRH patients, and it is exciting to hear that this service will soon be expanding further.