19 January 2018

A canine companion has joined the Trust's psychological therapies team at Twinwoods in Bedfordshire. 

Bear, an Italian greyhound whippet cross, is spending one day a week with the team as part of a pilot project to gauge the benefits for staff of having a dog on site.

His working day includes a timetabled ‘pat & play’ session in the morning and ‘walkies’ which are open to all staff in the Specialist Healthcare Team for People with Learning Disabilities. 

Studies have shown that having a dog in the workplace can promote cohesion and trust, reduce stress, encourage increased activity and increase social interaction. 

Bear belongs to project lead, Nicki Power, Head of Arts Therapies for Bedfordshire and Luton. 

“I am a passionate believer in the emotional benefits of having pets and this project is to understand whether we can access those benefits in the workplace and, most importantly, whether staff want to. 

There is very little in the way of animal assisted stress interventions for staff in the NHS and we are excited to see what we can learn from this work. 

“The initial response has been extremely positive. 

“I think Bear’s name also may have given a slightly misleading impression to some colleagues about his actual size. You won’t be looking up at a grizzly-sized animal when you meet my Bear, you will definitely be looking downwards!” 

The three-month pilot at Twinwoods started on January 5 and will measure the ‘Bear effect’, including collecting anonymous data from staff.