Hospice dog brings comfort to patients in Lincoln and Gainsborough

16th August 2018

Hospice Canine Concern dog has supported patients and families

St Barnabas Hospice Canine Concern dog has supported patients and families for over three years

Since 2015, Jess the Canine Concern dog has been a regular face at the St Barnabas Day Therapy Centre in Gainsborough, as well as the Inpatient Unit in Lincoln. She has supported many patients and their families during what is one of the most difficult times in their lives, and provides comfort to those who need it the most.

Pat, Jess’s owner, who is also a Hospice Chaplain and volunteer at the Gainsborough Day Therapy Centre, said:

“Because our patients are all experiencing life-limiting or terminal illnesses, this sometimes means that their current situation has meant they can no longer look after their own dog. Therefore when they meet Jess, it can often bring them some comfort and gives them an outlet.

“We also find that Jess gives patients the opportunity to talk about something outside of their diagnosis, which can be very difficult at times. She brings a touch of normality to our service, which we find increases the therapeutic value of our treatments immensely.”

Jess was born in Cyprus around thirteen years ago, before a rescue charity brought her over to England. Her breed is unknown, but she is thought to have some spaniel and pomeranian in her. Her temperament is very laid back, although she is very intuitive and is able to pick up on people’s body language well. Many patients have commented on how calming her presence is.

Pat said:

“Jess has helped so many patients and families and I will always remember how she helped a particular patient in our Lincoln Inpatient Unit. The patient had moved to England from South Africa three years before she was diagnosed with a terminal illness and was really missing her dog, which was still in South Africa.

“Knowing this, I took Jess to see the patient, who immediately appeared more at ease. In the following days, the patient who was no longer able to talk much spoke to the nurses at length about Jess’s visit and it occupied much of her conversation in the week leading up to her death.

“Jess has also helped a patient who had become unresponsive. She put her paws on the frame of the patient’s bed and within a few minutes it became apparent that the patient was aware of Jess. The patient reached out to stroke her, saying the word “soft,” which was the first word she had spoken in some time.”

Jess is part of the furniture at the Gainsborough Day Therapy Centre, and is adored by all who meet her. She is often the first port of call for patients when they enter the building, as she is able to put them at ease before they meet with a Nurse for their treatment. Many people are able to open-up and feel more comfortable with their surroundings with the support of Jess.

To find out more about the palliative services which St Barnabas Hospice provides free of charge across Lincolnshire, visit www.stbarnabashospice.co.uk

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