Volunteer dog Norman takes the lead at Charing Cross

09 December 2019

Volunteer dog Norman takes the lead at Charing Cross
With four legs, soft fur and a wagging tail, one of our hospital volunteers certainly stands out from the crowd.

Meet Norman, one of our Pets as Therapy volunteer dogs.

Along with Animal Visitor Volunteer Sarah Sparkes, our furry canine friend has an important role to play at Charing Cross Hospital.

Every week Sarah and Norman visit the hospital’s intensive care unit to help lift the spirits of patients who are seriously ill.

Hospital staff have found that Norman’s presence can have a positive impact on patients’ mood, taking their mind off their treatment during what can be a very stressful time.

“We’ve seen a lot of positivity from patients,” said Sarah. “There have been some who are seemingly unconscious, but when Norman gets on the bed they feel his paws and smile. 

“One lady who hadn’t spoken for a couple of days couldn’t stop talking about the dog afterwards!”

Dogs are no strangers to a rigorous vetting but for this role Norman had to pass a thorough assessment to make sure he had the right temperament for a hospital setting.

Staff have also set up strict hygiene guidelines to ensure there’s no risk to any of the patients.

Samantha Graham, Senior Respiratory Physiotherapist at the hospital, believes Sarah and Norman’s regular visits have already made a big difference.

“It’s nice, especially for some of our long-stay patients, to keep seeing Norman and to build a relationship.

“Having Sarah there as well is a big help. For some patients, their family can’t come to visit very often but Sarah is able to stop and chat with them.

“The intensive care unit is a very sterile, clinical place. Humanising the unit and making it more of a normal environment is quite a big thing.”

To find out more about volunteering opportunities at our hospitals, click here.