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Hospital wards have been given the go ahead to accept animals and especially therapy dogs onto hospital wards and other healthcare settings, by senior nurses.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has published new guidance for hospitals to explore the use of animal therapy after it conducted a survey last year and found most nurses didn’t allow animals in their workplace.
This was even though many survey respondents were in favour of animal therapy, stating they thought it beneficial to patients.
Amanda Cheesley, RCN professional lead for long-term conditions and end-of-life care, said: “Anyone who’s worked in this area can see the amazing impact animals have on the health of adults and children alike.
“However, there are so many myths around the dangers of having animals in health care settings that most organisations are too concerned to try it out."
In the RCN survey, nine out of 10 nurses believed animals could help improve the health of patients with depression and other mental health problems. Over 60 per cent of respondents also acknowledged animals can help speed patient recovery.
It is hoped the new protocols will ‘dispel fears’ of using therapy animals in hospitals and other similar environments; something previously seen as ‘taboo’ by many healthcare professionals. Ms Cheesley said: “This protocol will help to dispel these fears by supporting hospitals to include animals in the care they deliver in a safe and professional way.
"We hope that it will encourage all health services to consider how animals can help their patients and help us to remove the taboo from what is a really remarkable area of care.”