At Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware, we know that interacting with a dog can help our patients, families and staff feel more at home. Dogs provide companionship, snuggles, a sense of outside comfort to the hospital setting and so much more. That is why we are proud to offer multiple forms of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) by incorporating both certified therapy dogs as well as clinically trained facility dogs into our patient’s hospital experience.
Our therapy dog program utilizes trained volunteers and their personal pets, certified through a nationally accredited organization, to provide comfort, joy, love and a sense of home here at the hospital. Each volunteer comes at minimum once a month but some as many as once a week with their four-legged companion. All therapy dogs coming into the hospital are bathed within 24 hours of their visit, have their own custom trading cards to share and spend time visiting patients both at the bedside and in public areas.
In addition to therapy dogs, we are implementing a brand-new facility dog program. Facility dogs are bred, raised and trained to work in a specialized environment for more than a year and a half before being matched to a hospital and handler. At Nemours, our facility dog is paired with certified child life specialists, who assess and coordinate with the interdisciplinary team to provide a variety of services:
- Comfort and support at the bedside for medical procedures
- Encouragement post-surgery and in therapy sessions
- A calm presence during episodes of pain
- Opportunities for play during long or repeated admissions
- A listening ear during conversations surrounding new diagnoses
- Patient, family and staff psychosocial support
Facility dogs are professionally groomed weekly, receive frequent wipedowns in between patient visits and follow standard infection control protocols. They wear a special Nemours vest, badge and take a lunch break just like any paid staff.
How to Support the Animal Assisted Therapy Teams
Our program is only possible due to the generous donations from people like you and our community sponsors. Your support guarantees that patients and families will always receive this service free of charge and ensures its success for years to come.
Other Ways to Show Your Support
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If you see any of our dogs in the hallways, please stop (and hand sanitize), and give them a quick scratch and cuddle. They enjoy receiving love and affection just as much as giving it.