Central Coast Health says “Pets are Family Too”

by LukeAdmin

Zen and her human Jean on Inpatient Unit K2 at Gosford Hospital. Credit: Photo taken by local photographer Hilda Bezuidenhout who features in the exhibition.

Photography exhibition highlights paws-itive impact of pet visits

It will be “raining cats and dogs” in the corridors of Gosford Hospital over the coming months with a photography exhibition celebrating the joy and benefits of personal pet visits.

The Pets are Family Too exhibition, run in partnership with Gosford Regional Gallery (Central Coast Council) will feature photos from an innovative research project of the same name, conducted by CCLHD staff.

The project was a collaboration between the Carer Support Unit, Mental Health Services and the Public Health Unit which set out to explore the impact of allowing patients to have visits from their own pet during hospital stays.

Fourteen personal pet visits were carried out over 12 weeks on Inpatient Ward C5 at Gosford Hospital, with overwhelmingly positive feedback from patients, carers and staff.

Carer Support Unit Manager Tia Covi said the visits resulted in joy, laughter, tears of happiness and smiles.

“Personal pet visits work wonders for many patients and their pets,” Tia said.

“Being separated from a pet during illness can cause a great deal of anxiety and stress for some people and the pet too. Being able to see and hold their beloved pet is so therapeutic and puts their mind at rest.

“Just like a visit from a family member or friend, pets can provide comfort, entertainment and distraction. Many of our patients said they had more energy and motivation after seeing their pet and it can also have a very positive effect on staff and carers.

“Carers commented it felt good to be able to do something to bring joy to their family member or friend and it also exposed them to lots of new supports through the Carer Support Unit.”

The Carer Support Unit is now using the tools created during the research project to support personal pet visits in some CCLHD wards.

“We do our best to accommodate personal pet visit requests wherever possible with the support of the guidelines and protocols in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all pets, patients, carers and staff,” Tia said.

The Pets are Family Too exhibition captures the joy, love and special bonds between patients and their animals.

Photos will be on display on level 4 of the Gosford Hospital tower from 15 February to 13 April 2023. For information on personal pet visits at Gosford Hospital email CCLHD-CSUCC@health.nsw.gov.au

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