Patients in ICU at Son Llàtzer Hospital in Palma will be able to have visits from their dogs. Believed to be beneficial in reducing anxiety, the dog visits have to be approved by a doctor. A vet’s check is also needed, and a dog trainer will be present.
This initiative, which has already started (the visits are in the hospital garden rather than in ICU), is based on one that was introduced at Can Misses Hospital in Ibiza in 2017. A service known as Dogspital, which consists of health professionals, vets, and “canine educators”, has followed the procedures adopted in Ibiza. For now, the initiative will just apply to ICU, but the Son Llàtzer management is looking at extending it to the rest of the hospital.
These procedures start with a patient requesting a visit. A doctor evaluates whether clinical conditions are suitable, and if so, a vet will certify that the dog has all the necessary vaccinations and is not suffering from any parasite or disease. Vets are giving their time free for this. The dog trainer will then make an assessment of the dog and accompany it during the visit.
As well as reducing anxiety, visits by dogs assist with stimulating the memory and with communication and interaction.
The visits are part of a broader process being adopted by the Son Llàtzer management to “humanise” service to patients. An aspect of this is the use of satisfaction surveys of both patients and their families. In a recent survey, as an example, the friendliness and understanding of medical professionals was rated “very positive”.