But not anymore - Staff at the Trinity Holistic Centre at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough have pulled out all the stops to open up their own pet shed.
The purpose built facility in the holistic centre garden now provides an opportunity for families to bring in small animals such as dogs, cats and rabbits so that patients can be reunited with their much-loved pets – providing they are well enough to leave the ward.
Patients will be accompanied by a staff member or therapeutic care volunteer from South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust throughout their pet therapy session and strict hand washing rules will be in place to comply with infection control rules.
The pre-arranged visits can be for up to an hour, but for safety reasons only one pet can be on site at any time and they must be kept under control by a family member.
Lauren Farrow, Macmillan information and support centre’s business manager said: “We wanted to use our garden to help patients who are missing their pets to spend some precious time with them.
“Pets are such an important part of our lives and can really affect our sense of wellbeing so this project fits really well with the holistic work that we do.
“Guidance from the Royal College of Nursing champions the importance of this kind of therapy so we were keen to make it a realistic option for our patients. After all, patients who spend long periods of time in hospital can actually have a quicker recovery if they have access to their pets.”
This project has been made possible thanks to the kind sponsorship of Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation’s Golden Giveaway, Ageing Better, Serco and friends and family of Christine Wall.
Trinity Holistic Centre is a charitable organisation supporting patients, carers and staff at James Cook and at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.
The service is dependent on the generosity of its volunteers, supporters and fundraisers.
To find out more visit southtees.nhs.uk/trinity, follow @THCTrinityholistic on Facebook or call the centre on 01642 854839.