Preston dog Jasper honoured for supporting patients and hospital staff
Lancashire therapy dog Jasper is being recognised with a special award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) at the House of Lords.
Six-year-old cockapoo Jasper, along with owner David Anderson, 46, from Preston, a hospital chaplain and counsellor, works with East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust to support more than 9,000 staff across the Trust’s acute and community hospitals.
This includes working t Royal Blackburn Teaching Hospital and Burnley General Teaching Hospital.
Before the pandemic Jasper, who completed a 10-week training programme to work in a busy ward environment, had accompanied David to visit patients undergoing end-of-life care, as well as those suffering a mental health crisis.
He has also worked with physiotherapists assisting patients affected by strokes, with patients encouraged to stroke Jasper as part of their therapy.
David said: “Jasper’s role has always been to make people smile and feel better and 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.”
Jasper is trained to go to people showing distress or crying and is very perceptive to the emotions around him. David explained that although the peak of the pandemic has passed, it was at this point for some staff that the trauma of the previous months hit home.
During the pandemic Jasper received East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust ‘Employee of the month’ accolade for the comfort he had brought to staff and patients, while David received a British Empire Medal for his dedication and hard work supporting patients and staff.
When he is not at work, Jasper enjoys being a normal pet, going for walks with David and playing with the many toys he receives from his hospital friends.
Jasper will receive his award at IFAW’s prestigious Animal Action Awards event at the House of Lords on October 12.