A report on the BBC in the UK this week said that nurses and other hospital professionals believe it could be beneficial to allow pets into hospitals – even in some cases into operating theaters.
Animals Can Provide a Lot of Benefits to Sick People
The benefits of animal therapy have been researched quite extensively and interacting with pets has been shown to help people with all kinds of mental and physical health problems. Petting a dog or cat has been shown to help relaxation and lower blood pressure, and interacting with shelter animals has also helped people as a form of therapy for depression and anxiety.
Equally, just as some people bring animals into stressful situations with them to help keep them calm (for example, people who are afraid of flying can sometimes be allowed to bring their dog on a plane with them), British nurses believe that allowing patients to see their pets could help to keep them calm and happy when they are undergoing stressful treatments like chemotherapy and help them with anxiety around surgery.
These benefits can apply to people of all ages, but those especially vulnerable to feeling afraid in hospitals, like children and elderly people, can experience the greatest positive effects.
Success with Animal Visitor Programs in UK Hospitals
In the BBC’s report, they discussed a program in a hospital in Southampton on the south coast where animals are brought in to visit patients. This has already been very successful in boosting patient morale and there haven’t been any issues.
Of course, pets permitted to enter wards at the hospital have to be up to date on vaccinations, handled by their owner, and must also have their feet cleaned with sterilizing wipes of a medical grade.
Is It Safe?
Hospital administration worked hard to be able to create this program without presenting any risk of infection from the animals or other issues. This is probably the most important thing to consider when discussing whether or not letting animals into a hospital is safe. People studying for qualifications like an online masters in health administration often look at questions like these – when there are benefits to doing something, how can a hospital implement it without creating risk?
Without carefully considering what potential risks animals can cause in a hospital and what kind of guidelines can work to allow animals on the premises without those risks being realized, it would probably be quite dangerous for therapy or pet visit programs to take place. However, MHA degree online students should find the precautions used in hospitals in the UK for pet therapy and visit schemes are safe to use in other countries that wish to implement similar programs.
In medical facilities where infections are less of a risk, for instance, rehab centers or nursing homes, animals are sometimes already allowed, but it could be possible for the benefits of pets to be gained even in community hospitals with the right management.