Nine out of ten (90%) nurses believe animals can improve the health of patients with depression and other mental health problems, according to a survey of members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
The survey of more than 750 nursing staff also found that more than 80% think animals can improve communication difficulties such as for people with autism. In addition, 82% said that animals, dogs in particular, encouraged patients to be more physically active, while nearly 60% said just the presence of animals seemed to speed physical recovery.
Nearly half of those surveyed have worked with animals in their career, from dogs and cats to ponies and chipmunks, and of those 98% said it benefited the patient.
However, almost a quarter of staff questioned said no animals were allowed where they worked.
Amanda Cheesley, RCN Professional Lead for Long-term Conditions and End-of-life care, said: “I’ve seen patients with animals in hospitals and in their homes – the difference it makes is remarkable. I used to take my Great Dane with me when I was a district nurse and he could put a smile on any patient’s face.”
“The RCN is calling for better, more consistent access to animals for all patients who can benefit, as the evidence is clear that as well as bringing joyful moments to people when they are unwell, the clinical benefits are tangible. Nurses have told us of patients with reduced anxiety, better interaction and a whole reason to live – and we should listen to these experiences.”
Source: Royal College of Nursing