Preston therapy dog Jasper the cockapoo has received an International Fund for Animal Welfare award.Advertisement
Jasper, 6, and owner David Anderson visited the House of Lords on Tuesday 12 October, where they received recognition for supporting more than 9,000 staff across East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust hospitals.
Winning the IFAW Animal of the Year Award after helping NHS staff during the pandemic, Jasper was credited for his service tackling stress in NHS facilities.
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Pre-pandemic, Jasper completed a 10-week training programme that saw him learn how to work in the hospital environment. David and Jasper then visited mental health and end-of-life-care patients and worked with physiotherapists to help stroke patients.
David said: “Jasper’s role has always been to make people smile and feel better. During the peak of the pandemic, when everyone was giving so much, sometimes staff just needed to have a cuddle with Jasper, have a cry and go back to the wards.
“There is no judgement with a dog, and staff can show their emotions with him, take him out for a walk, or just sit quietly with him and reflect. Traumatised staff feel they can’t always share all the thoughts and feelings of working in the pandemic with family members, but many find it easier to talk while stroking Jasper.”
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During the pandemic, Jasper had to stay at home, so David conducted counselling sessions over Zoom.
But he was soon back on the wards, supporting NHS staff during the crisis through the ‘Conversations with Jasper’ sessions, which saw 1,000 staff participating.
Through his training, Jasper has learned to identify when people are crying or showing signs of distress and go to those in need so they can stroke him.
When he is not busy helping people, Jasper loves nothing more than walks with David and playing with toys donated by hospital staff.
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