Posted on: 14 December 2020

Two young people at Lavender Walk have reflected on how animal therapy has helped them especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Helen*, 17 and Rose*, 13 both patients at Lavender Walk, take part in an animal assisted intervention programme called TheraPaws, run by Mayhew.

Patients and staff look forward to weekly visits by Francesca, TheraPaws volunteer and Tilly, Francesca’s Portuguese water dog.

Helen and Rose shared their thoughts on how the sessions make them feel.

Helen said: “I definitely feel like Tilly elevates my mood. The sessions are so soothing and calming; if I’m feeling overwhelmed, or abit anxious or on edge, or anything like that, it’s really nice just to sit with Tilly and stroke her.”

Rose agreed and added: “During the sessions you sort of bond with the other patients; you can all talk about animals and talk to Francesca, and it’s just really fun.”

However, when Covid-19 restrictions came in earlier this year, TheraPaws visits had to be suspended across London, including at Lavender Walk.

Sarah Crawley, Lead Occupational Therapist at Lavender Walk, knew with Covid-19 restrictions in place it might affect patient morale.

Sarah said: “The absence [of TheraPaws] during the first lockdown was extremely visible on the ward, both due to sudden lack of structure and predictability and also the loss of connection to the community beyond the hospital.”

When restrictions were lifted in July, Francesca and Tilly were invited back to Lavender Walk.

Francesca who has been visiting the young people at the service since April 2019 was delighted to be asked back.

Francesca said: “I was aware how much Tilly’s visits would be missed by everyone. With social distancing guidelines it has worked so well, and Tilly and I love being back in the unit. The kid are delighted to have her too!”

To read the full article please visit the Mayhew website and read the latest magazine.

 *Patient names have been changed