Trainee therapy dog Alfie graduates with flying colours to become ‘Head of Happiness’ at East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.
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Alfie joined the trust in January, 2022, when he was just nine weeks old to support patients and colleagues, becoming a familiar face on the hospital wards and a much- loved member of the team.
The Trust’s charity ELHT&Me used a grant from NHS Charities Together to introduce Alfie, who offers unique wellbeing support to patients, visitors and colleagues and ensure he was properly trained. His presence has had an immeasurable impact, providing comfort to individual
colleagues and teams in need of a friendly face – he even met their Royal Highnesses, William and Catherine at Clitheroe Community Hospital in his first week.
Alfie is based at the Spiritual Care Centre at Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital and lives with Rachel Fielding, Chaplain and Therapy Dog Practitioner for the Trust.
Rachel said: “From the first day Alfie came to the trust his every action was honed to form him into a calm, listening and gentle lad.
“His behaviour at work needs to be exemplary and once we were reasonably confident his trainer, Dave Gilmore, first assessed him at home to ensure his behaviour and manners were good – if he is not a good boy in a familiar environment, he would not be a good boy under a strange, new stressful situation.
“Once he had passed the home test, Alfie was assessed at the hospital with a suitable patient, who was a retired veterinary nurse.
“The usual dog rules were also assessed, such as walking to heel, listening to commands, being non-reactive to noise. He also had to take treats gently and wait patiently.
“Alfie passed each stage first time and with flying colours.”
As a fully trained therapy dog Alfie will now be able to visit patients and staff anywhere, including the children’s wards, and provide comfort and companionship in a clinical setting. He will also be able to attend bed visits for patients facing end of life to help give comfort to both the patient and their family.