Southampton Children’s Hospital Therapy Dogs

Team Finalist

Southampton Children’s Hospital Therapy Dogs

SCH Therapy Dogs are a team of golden retrievers that provide Animal Assisted Intervention at Southampton Children’s Hospital.  

The team have helped more than 10,000 children, many critically ill, bringing smiles of simple joy and a sense of normality in the paediatric wards, including all types of medical and surgical patients, cancer care, and even paediatric intensive care.  

When the pandemic hit the UK, the team had been seeing more than 2,500 patients a year but were forced to cease their activities due to the Covid restrictions. They still wanted to support both the staff and children at the hospital so for the 15 months they were off, Leo, Jessie, Archie, Hattie, Quinn, Milo and Pollyanna made Zoom calls to the wards and played educational games via Zoom with those at the hospital school.  They also starred in fun videos where the dogs were doing lockdown activities including walks, baking, music, keeping fit etc as well as giving advice on keeping safe and socially distant during the pandemic.  ‘Dogtor Leo’ assumed the role of the CMO (that’s a Canine Medical Officer) which provided much amusement for patients, parents and staff as well as the public through their social media following, including their Facebook Page.  This not only helped the patients on the wards but also the staff working through the pandemic. 

The team restarted hospital visits to patients referred for Animal-Assisted Intervention on 1 May 2021 and are now back bringing their special canine magic to the children and helping to create positive memories of time in healthcare.  When a child needs help and support, whether it is for a specific test, as a distraction while a procedure is taking place or in some form of rehabilitation the team works alongside the healthcare professionals to create something for the patient.  Young people admitted with mental health issues also value spending time with the dogs and for all patients, they are the bridge between the healthcare professionals and the patients.  

Committed to researching the benefit of the human-animal bond in paediatric healthcare and having already had one study published, this team is now part of two research studies in paediatric intensive care.  One study is researching the clinical and physiological benefits of a therapy dog visit while in intensive care and the other is looking at the role of Animal Assisted Intervention in early rehabilitation where the handlers create activities with the dogs to work alongside the intensive care medical teams.  

Whichever ward they are working on, the dogs don’t persuade or cajole the children, they are simply dogs and their most important role is to create positive memories of a time in healthcare for the children and their families.

 

Testimonials: 

“You were only with her 15 minutes and therapy dog Leo made her smile and speak! That was so powerful…she trusted and felt safe with you and Leo and now trusts us. Thank you.  Leo achieved where we humans had failed…” Advanced Nurse Practitioner in Paediatric Intensive Care (PICU) – Southampton Children’s Hospital

“Thanks so much for training the dog to wear the anaesthetic mask to show [the patient].  It was great to be able to role play and for her to overcome her fears.  Can you be there to escort her to theatre too next week?” Paediatric Hospital Play Specialist, Southampton Children’s Hospital

 

“I didn’t feel it at all I just concentrated on my other hand stroking the dog and looked at him smiling at me” Patient with phobia of needles having cannula inserted into the back of her hand ready for an operation.

“In many ways, he was my first dog. He taught me all about the love that dogs provide; they don’t care what weight you are or what you ate that day, they don’t care if you’re depressed or anxious … they just  love you unconditionally.” Teenage mental health patient

“The dogs bring a sense of normality to a very abnormal and scary situation and so much joy.” Parent of childhood cancer patient

“These dogs have been the biggest and greatest distraction through the darkest times. Their powers to make the worst situations into the best is absolutely phenomenal…thank you will never be enough” Patient with Cerebral Palsy who has undergone multiple surgeries and long-term rehabilitation

“Thank you for organising for therapy dog Milo to be there today while our patient had his premed.  We would have struggled without him….[patient] cannot be anaesthetised when he is anxious but a therapy dog really helps him to remain calm and his procedure is then able to take place.” Sister on paediatric surgical ward

 

 

Ahead of the judge’s final decision, please help shine a light on this incredible team. Leave a message of support below and share the page via WhatsApp, social media or email to encourage others to do the same.

Category: Team

Show your support for Southampton Children’s Hospital Therapy Dogs

guest
18 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Emily Spiteri
Emily Spiteri
1 day ago

From the moment we met this incredible team
of dogs (and their handlers!) they have changed our lives for the better. The work they do with the children is second to none but what they do for parents and siblings too makes these dogs the definition of heros. I will forever be grateful for that first warm, fluffy & familiar hug in the darkest of days.

Andrew McCarthy
Andrew McCarthy
1 day ago

Best team therapy my son received following a cardiac arrest and volunteers too!!

Joanna
Joanna
7 days ago

What a fabulous team.
They fill our hearts 💕 with so much love.
Such an amazing job they do 🐾🐾

Helen childs
Helen childs
7 days ago

This wonderful charity deserves all the publicity it can get. The volunteers are so enthusiastic and work tirelessly to give the children some light and joy in their day.

Helen
Helen
7 days ago

These dogs and their owners are just incredible- the reassurance and confidence they give the children they visit is unique and provides the strength to those they help at the hardest of times. They also brighten the days of the medical teams and always manage to raise a smile and provide comfort with their endearing ways. They really are deserving finalists.

Bev Bethell
Bev Bethell
7 days ago

This team of amazing dogs bring comfort and smiles to the children, some with life limiting illnesses. To see the children smile and how the dogs help when the children are scared and sick is nothing but phenomenal.
Not all hero’s wear capes some wear collars

THL
THL
8 days ago

You just can’t describe the way a child lights up when they see one of these guys. Indescribable healing powers and mental health support

Donna Austin
Donna Austin
8 days ago

As a nurse at the hospital, the Southampton Children’s Hospital Therapy Dogs have such an impact on our team and to the children, and families in our care. They are uplifting for the staff, a piece of normality in a stressful situation for the parents and siblings, and an imperative part of distraction, rehabilitation and therapy for the children. We couldn’t be without them in our hospital.

Emma
Emma
9 days ago

The Southampton therapy dogs are the most wonderful link between the medical environment and a slice of home brought to the bedside. My son has spent months in PICU and the children’s wards and the dogs have given him love and put a smile in his face when nothing else could possibly have… they’re not just dogs, they’re intuitive and sensitive and so loved by staff, families and children in hospital.

Maggie
Maggie
9 days ago

Incredible team. Over the last few years they have been the pioneers of animal assisted intervention in healthcare in the UK. The children and families at Southampton Childrens Hospital have been so grateful to have the dogs on the wards. So too have the staff who love working with them and sharing some canine cuddles when they are there really supports staff wellbeing as a byproduct of what they do for the children.

Carole Carter
Carole Carter
9 days ago

I cannot praise highly enough the team of handlers Lyndsey, Karen, Hannah and Liz and their amazing Golden Retrievers Leo, Jessie, Quinn, Pollyanna, Hattie, Archie and the lovely Milo. Together they have created something very special at Southampton Children’s Hospital wards with their combined dedication bringing Love, Fun, Patience and Hope to so many children and their families at what must be their worst life experience. Lyndsey’s leadership has guided a very new experience using in specialised Therapy.
I wish them continued success. You are a very special team. Well done to you all.

Dawn Cummings
Dawn Cummings
9 days ago

These dogs do a marvellous job and are worthy of winning. Well done SGH Therapy dogs for becoming finalists. We hope you win the group award

Margaret
Margaret
9 days ago

So well deserved that this incredible team of lovely dogs have been named finalists as they do such wonderful work at SCH
Having recently read Lyndsey Uglow’s book( Leo and Friends. The extraordinary dogs with the healing touch ) I realise even more how their many ,many visits help the very sick children, their families and even the staff cope with very difficult and extremely worrying situations
I wish you all the very best of luck for your continuing success at the hospital and for the Superdog Awards

Graeme Pickett
Graeme Pickett
9 days ago

I first heard of the team through my daughter who works at the SGH,When my wife was in hospital undergoing treatment for cancer although I knew the therapy dogs were primarily for the children I asked if it would be possible to arranged a visit to cheer her up.
She was visited by Leo wearing his Lions mane and made such a difference to her and to the other patients and staff on the ward. During her lengthy time in hospital she was visited on several occasions by other members of the team each time bringing happines to all around. To see the smile on her face and they joy it brought to others was amazing.
The team perform a wonderful service and bring so much happiness in what are such testing times.
Sadly my wife has since passed away but I still have photos of her encounters to remember.
Keep up your wonderful work

Claire
Claire
9 days ago

So so pleased that this amazing team are finalists as part of the super dog awards! They often come into the wards with their superhero capes on but these are honestly not needed! From the minute they enter the wards, our families as well as staff are all smiling from ear to ear. They bring a little bit of normal into something not normal and often scary, as well as a distraction from what is happening on the ward. The patients on the children’s oncology ward are currently not able to leave their rooms due to covid but to have a visit from one these therapy dogs is enough to make them smile and talk about the visits for days later! Not only do the dogs bring smiles to all they meet, but the handlers are always there for the parents too with their listening ears, and comforting words. This team are truly worth their weight in gold, we’re are so grateful they are now allowed back on the ward working with us, and supporting our patients once again.

Banjo
Banjo
9 days ago

An organisation close to my heart! Huge congratulations to the Southampton Children’s Hospital Therapy Dogs on becoming finalists. You deserve recognition for the brilliant work you do and we wish you all the very best. Good Luck for the SuperDog Awards – we hope you win the team category!

Noel Austin
Noel Austin
10 days ago

These dogs form a team of Golden Retrievers who bring unconditional love and support to the children they meet at Southampton Children’s hospital thus helping them to undergo their treatment bravely and with confidence The dogs bring normality and humour to the lives of these young patients who watch their antics vie face book and zoom. By removing anxiety and fear surely aids their recovery.

sophie aitken
sophie aitken
11 days ago

They say all hero’s don’t wear capes and yet most of the time these guys do!!!! They all make such a difference to patients, when you are in the middle of something really awful and you really don’t understand how you are going to cope They come along and just make everything feel ok, my husband was in a coma and the calm They added to such a crazy time was unbelievable the work they do makes a difference not just to the patient and yet family in the hospital or at home that are not aloud to visit. My children loved that dad was having visits from Leo and Lyndsey helped them cope in very hard times. And the contact now years on is so comforting. They work so hard to bring smiles to others they now deserve the reward. Thank you for all you do xxx

Team Finalists