‘Paw-some’ new recruits join hospital’s frailty unit

Date: 01 February 2024

New therapy dogs with volunteers at Sheppey Frailty Unit

Medway NHS Foundation Trust’s Sheppey Frailty Unit has welcomed two new therapy dogs, Molly and Hunney, to help bring comfort and happiness to patients, visitors and staff.

Molly, a four-year-old Cock-a-tzu, owned by Tricia Higson from Sheppey, and Hunney, a one-year-old Cockapoo, owned by Jo Dollimore from Sittingbourne, will be visiting the frailty ward at Sheppey Community Hospital every week, after joining as volunteers.

Tricia highlighted the importance of volunteering and ‘’giving something back’’ to the community that she calls home. Tricia said: ‘’I live in Sheppey and it’s about giving something back to the community and to the hospital. Molly and I get a lot out of it and the patients benefit greatly too – some people don’t have regular visitors, so that’s where we can step in and provide comfort.’’

Jo, a former nurse, said the visits with Hunney are enjoyed by all and give patients something to look forward to. She said: ‘’Now we have regular weekly slots booked in we can tell the patients in advance when we are coming and it really gives them a boost. We cheer up the patients and their relatives too – it’s amazing to see how it benefits them.’’

The dogs joined forces to work their first combined shift at the Sheppey Frailty Unit on Wednesday 31 January, when they met several excited patients, including Shirlee Jacobs who said: ‘’Seeing Molly and Hunney has really brightened up my day. They get everyone up, talking and bring positivity to the ward. I think it’s really important to have therapy animals like this. My daughter has dogs and my mum and dad always owned pets when I was growing up, so we are very much a dog family.’’

Elsewhere patient Theresa Monk enjoyed a cuddle in bed with Hunney, and said:’’ I’ve had dogs all my life – it gives you a real lift to see them here at the hospital. Hunny is so soft and lovely – she makes me feel very calm and relaxed.’’

Molly and Hunney are the latest recruits to the Trust’s well established team of therapy dogs, which includes golden retriever Yazzy, Siberian Husky Blue and Havanese Maltese cross Fred, who volunteer regularly at Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham.

Zoe Goodman, the Trust’s Voluntary Services Manager, said: ‘’We are delighted to welcome Molly and Hunney to our team of therapy dogs across Medway and Swale and we thank their owners Tricia and Jo for giving up their time to support our patients, visitors and colleagues. They really help to bring cheer to people in hospital and we hear so much positive feedback about the dogs – it’s wonderful to see the smiles they put on people’s faces.’’

  • Summary:

    Medway NHS Foundation Trust’s Sheppey Frailty Unit has welcomed two new therapy dogs, Molly and Hunney, to help bring comfort and happiness to patients, visitors and staff.