NHS staff have spirits lifted with special visits from four-legged friends – Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Wag & Company brought their welfare dogs to the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital (NSECH) in Cramlington to meet the staff finishing their busy shift as well as those who were just starting.

The charity has also visited North Tyneside General Hospital and Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s offices at Cobalt in recent months as well as ongoing support for people in their own homes on a one-to-one basis following referrals from the trust.

Nigel Gray and his American cockapoo Whitley, who both volunteer for Wag & Company, accompanied Northumbria Healthcare’s Bright charity, which organised and provided funding for the visits, in greeting more than 100 staff in total throughout their special visit at NSECH.

Rachael Heeley, A&E matron at the hospital, who requested the visit, said: “I want to say a huge thanks to Nigel and Whitley for taking the time to come and see us. It was a wonderful experience and our staff were still talking about it for days afterwards.

“We have received some fantastic feedback and the team have all been raving about Wag & Company and how thankful they are for the emotional support, at such a difficult time.”

Wag & Company is a charity specialising in dog-befriending services for older dog lovers in their own homes, as well as in care or in hospitals, to help combat loneliness, isolation and bereavement.  All of the dogs like Whitley are assessed by highly qualified volunteer assessors to ensure their suitability and safety.

Nigel said: “I feel so privileged to be able to meet with our NHS staff who are providing life-saving care under significant pressures.

“Some of the nurses were coming off their nightshift, in tears, because they had had such a difficult shift, but they were all so thrilled to see Whitley and were leaving with smiles on their faces. It was so rewarding to know we were making that small difference.”

Northumbria Healthcare has worked in partnership with Wag & Company since 2018, dubbing it the Doggies on Prescription service – initially to provide some doggie companionship to older people in the community.  Wag & Company continued to support older people in their own homes throughout the pandemic in different ways, returning to physical visiting as soon as they could in spring/summer 2021.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Wag & Company also visited patients and staff on certain wards and it is hoped that these visits can be relaunched soon. For more information about the charity, visit wagandcompany.co.uk or contact info@wagandcompany.co.uk

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