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Therapy dog Ted brings joy to mental health patients

Hannah French and Ted

Two year old Ted, the Acorn Centre’s visiting therapy dog, is helping patients with mental health problems to get well, active and to find purpose.

Ted works together with patients to help them recover and reach their goals by going on walks and providing comfort, affection and entertainment. Ted is also partial to singing along to songs with patients and particularly enjoys barking along to Amy Winehouse music!

Hannah French, Occupational Therapist at the Acorn Centre and Ted’s owner, explains how she and Ted started their pet therapy journey:

“Whilst I was at university, I did a specific unit on pet therapy and how this can benefit patients and I thought Ted would work well as a therapy dog because of his friendly and loving nature.

“Ted’s trips to the Acorn Centre started when one particular patient mentioned how much they loved dogs, so one day I brought Ted in and everyone loved him! This patient has now started a work placement working with dogs and hopes to attend college to study animal care. Ted helped to grade this patients activities to build up to this.”

One patient, particularly fond of Ted said: “Having Ted come to visit was incredibly rewarding, it allowed me a few moments of feeling content, stable and happy. When I knew Ted was visiting it gave me a purpose to complete a simple task such as getting up and dressed, it gave me the driving force to see the day through. Ted is a bundle of joy and gave me the comfort I needed, walking Ted in the fresh air was not only good him but for me too. Seeing Ted made me smile and I felt calm, like my anxiety had been lifted.”

Hannah adds: “Pet therapy is an evidenced based therapy that is proven to make a positive difference to many people in many ways and different environments, including mental health. Here at the Acorn Centre, and the other mental health wards at Carleton Clinic, Ted is really helping patients to reach their goals of what’s important to them and is helping them to make a purposeful and meaningful recovery. Having Ted on the unit also makes it more homely for both patients and staff.”

Another patient said: “I look forward to Ted visiting, he always runs straight to me when he arrives and I enjoy walking him. He’s a lovely dog and he makes me feel better and reminds me of my dogs at home.”

Ted visits the Acorn Centre every Tuesday on what is now known as Ted Tuesday’s. In his spare time Ted has also helped a couple of children to overcome their fear of dogs.

The Acorn Centre is a 10 bed unit for men with complex mental health needs, focusing on building and re-building the skills and confidence needed to live successfully in the community.

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