Pet therapy – new protocol from RCN

Dogs should be used more widely in hospitals, says RCN

Animal therapy should be more widely available in hospitals, the RCN said as it launches the first nationwide protocol for dogs in healthcare

Sarah Wale with border collie Molly who form part of Kent and Medway NHS
and Social Care Partnership Trust's team.

The protocol, published at RCN congress, provides an evidence base for introducing dogs into care environments.

It explains how to ensure the safety of patients, healthcare staff, animals and their owners while allowing patients to benefit from the therapy.


The protocol follows an RCN survey last year that found that although most respondents thought animals were hugely beneficial to patients, most nurses said animals were not allowed in their workplace.

Nine out of ten nurses believed animals can improve the health of patients with depression and other mental health problems, and 60% said the presence of animals could speed a patient’s recovery, the survey found.

RCN professional lead for long-term conditions and end of life care Amanda Cheesley – who led the development of the protocol said: 'Anyone who’s worked in this area can see the amazing impact animals have on the health of adults and children. However, there are so many myths around the dangers of having animals in healthcare settings that most organisations are too concerned to try it.

'This protocol will help to dispel these fears by supporting hospitals to include animals in the care they deliver. We hope it will encourage all health services to consider how animals can help their patients and help us to remove the taboo from what is a really remarkable area of care.'

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