An Occupational Therapist at Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) has trained her own dog as a Pet Assisted Therapy (PAT) dog which is visiting wards and putting smiles on patients faces.

Carola Tramsen from the Memory Therapy Service at the Trust is the owner of Max and she trained him herself to accompany her as a PAT dog.

A PAT dog is used to help people with dementia and other general mental health conditions. Carola had done a lot of research into Pet Assisted Therapy and the benefits it can have on people with these types of conditions. She has gathered experience with Animal Assisted Therapy involving horses, dogs and small pets for many years.

Carola, Occupational Therapist and Team Leader said: “Max is great for the pet lovers who miss their own dogs while being on the wards. He triggers conversation and allows patients with dementia to reminisce. He stimulates the patients and helps them to feel better. Patients often present far less withdrawn in the dog’s presence.

“We have many touching examples of where Max has been a great help to some of our patients with dementia and mental health conditions. On one occasion he has helped someone living with depression who would not communicate, after meeting Max this patient would open up to speak to people. I have also received a lot of positive feedback from staff, who observe the animal encounters.”

The Memory Therapy Service provides services in Doncaster for people living with dementia.