It’s been a year when doggy cuddles have turned bad days into better ones for so many of us, and that’s true for the country’s many frontline heroes too.
London’s Metropolitan Police have their own wellbeing dog named Dexter, and they wanted to share the support he offers to bobbies on the beat with their friends in the NHS.
The black Labrador is the first dog to take up this vital role in the Met.
Dexter and his handler PC Mike Sheather visit police officers and staff to support them with their wellbeing. The Met says the visits allow people the time to sit with Dexter and relax, plus it gives them a forum where they can talk openly about any topic important to them.
Seeing the good results this had on their own staff, the Met has been sending Dexter and PC Sheather into London hospitals to offer the same support to medical staff dealing with the worst of the pandemic.
So far, the pair have visited Homerton Hospital, The Royal London Hospital and University Hospital Lewisham, with a trip to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich also on their diaries.
The visits take place in an admin block, away from wards and clinical areas, to give staff an opportunity to take a step back from their busy shifts while they get all the comfort Dexter can offer.
The Met has shared a video on Twitter of some of Dexter’s adventures so far.
PC Sheather said: “I think people underestimate the comfort that our four-legged friends can provide and Dexter is proving an extremely invaluable presence to those who may be in need of that comfort.
“Having helped so many people in the Met, we decided to take Dexter further afield. It’s been a tough year for all of those working in emergency services and NHS staff have been putting their health and wellbeing before others throughout.
“This is a very simple way we can give back to the brilliant staff at UHL and all the other hospitals.
“Hopefully all those who meet Dexter will have had a smile on their face and some time to decompress if they are having a stressful day.”
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Meera Nair, from the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, said Dexter’s visit had made a difference: “We have been very focused on making sure there is a wide range of staff support in place since the start of the pandemic and these wellbeing visits are great for giving our hard-working staff a chance to relax and reset.”