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Spaniel’s a real hit with the Winchester patients
WITH his big eyes and floppy ears Charlie’s canine charm is helping patients on the road to recovery.
His owner Nicky Gent said her top dog’s friendly character made him perfect for providing therapeutic visits to the 23-bed Kingsley unit and signed him up to the Pets as Therapy charity. Now she takes him along to see the patients who all have different mental health conditions including depression, schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder every Monday afternoon.
She said: “Charlie was originally going to be a gundog but he was too soft. He is super friendly. He always manages to put a smile on people’s faces. He is very affectionate and loving. He does a good job and has lots of friends and loves all the attention!”
Three-year-old Charlie’s visits are proving to be a major part of patients’ therapy.
“He helps people to come out of themselves and brings a sense of normality. He also has a very calming effect and people like to stroke him,” added Nicky. “Patients have said to me that seeing him really makes a difference and made their day.”
Former patient Joy Piper, 54, who was admitted to the ward for six weeks with depression and post traumatic stress disorder said Charlie’s visits were a great idea.
“He is very adorable it is very relaxing to have him around. I found that stroking him made me feel very calm.”
Jenni Hart, the unit’s occupational therapist said there was growing evidence to suggest therapeutic animals can improve people’s mental health.
“Some patients who are isolated and withdrawn often start to open up and relax and it has a lasting benefit on their wellbeing long after an animal has visited,”she said.
The Kingsley Unit is situated at Melbury Lodge, near to the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, and is run by Hampshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.