Dementia patients are being treated to visits from golden retriever, Kai, as part of a new programme of pet therapy at Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda.

Nine-year-old Kai and his owner, Hannah Brunskill, started calling into the ward a few months ago, as it’s been shown that interaction with pets can have a calming effect and bring much joy to patients in hospital.

Hannah, who works as a graduate trainee manager for Cwm Taf University Health Board and volunteers with charity Pets As Therapy, brings Kai to the hospital every few weeks, but made a special visit to mark Dementia Awareness Week, which takes place this week.

She said: “I registered Kai with the charity and got in touch with the ward and they were really keen to get involved. The patients love Kai, and it’s been really good to see their positive reactions when we come to visit. He’s so docile and not very demanding, so he just enjoys getting the attention.”

Staff on the ward say Kai’s visits have been really popular with patients and they plan to continue with pet therapy in the future.

Therapy Nurse, Claire Jones, said: “It’s been amazing to see the patients smiling and interacting with Kai. It’s very calming for them too and it’s all they’ll talk about the next day. It brings them happiness. The patients’ families are also really pleased – we’ve had good feedback so we will definitely be carrying on with the visits.”

Colleen Rowlands, Nursing Auxiliary Healthcare Support Worker, said: “It’s great therapy for the patients and it’s great for staff too. When we see Kai it lifts us as well. I had one patient who initially didn’t want anything to do with the dog but after a while she was petting him and her facial expressions had completely changed.  It’s lovely to see. Many of the patients will have had pets or have pets at home and it’s great for them to be able to have that connection again.”

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