The Only National Awards For Non-Medical / Non-Clinical NHS Staff & Volunteers


Award Category:

Mental Wellness Champion

Individual or Team Nomination?


Qualifying Qualities

In these challenging times, nominators were asked to show how the nominee had demonstrated the following qualities:

  • Exceptional work ethic - going above and beyond their job description, especially in the past 12 months.
  • Outstanding achievement/s in work or outside of the organisation where relevant.
  • Drive for innovation and proactive leadership in these challenging times.
  • High level of interpersonal skills, such as kindness, empathy, loyalty and thoughtfulness to staff and patients.
  • A resilience considering Covid to their role and to the health and wellbeing of their colleagues.

Nominators Answer

Nominee's story :

Exceptional work ethic Barnsley Hospital Charity funded and helped arrange visits to the Trust from a trained therapy dog, Thunder. This innovation goes above and beyond general support usually offered to staff. Thunder has come to the Trust regularly during the pandemic to lift the spirits of team members across departments who have experienced real physical and emotional turmoil. These are dedicated staff working within the NHS who thrive on connecting with others. Recently, they’ve experienced being distanced from loved ones, had infection control restrictions in place to protect themselves and their patients, and witnessed truly distressing moments daily. Added to this is the physical exhaustion of working long hours in full PPE. To say that it’s been a challenging year is an understatement. Thunder and handler Adrian have worked tirelessly across the Trust, giving teams something to look forward to and offering comfort to staff members in unprecedented times. Outstanding achievements in work Thunder has been visiting the hospital to boost staff wellbeing and morale since October 2020. Every staff member who has been supported to date has a huge smile on their face. Staff say the photographs from visits are worth a thousand words and are a lasting memory for them to recall a moment of calm during everything they have been through in the pandemic. On meeting Thunder, staff report that he is no ordinary dog; those attending can sense his empathy and have also heard from owner Adrian about how he supports end of life patients – Thunder lies down with them, matches their breathing and gives them a last kiss, bringing a tear to the eye. Thunder is one of a team of highly trained therapy dogs. Adrian says: “A hug from Thunder makes everything in the world ok regardless of how busy, stressed or worried an individual is.” Drive for innovation Experiencing the innovation of therapy dog visits is driving alternative thinking about staff support measures at the Trust. Using Thunder has been a catalyst towards how we are thinking about staff wellbeing and accessing these services. Thunder has interacted with 1,500 staff. The use of therapy dogs in hospitals isn’t new but it has certainly not been taken up by all Trusts across the NHS. Research shows that the use of therapy dogs enhances staff emotional stability and can assist with keeping patients calm while receiving care. The research also showed that 100 per cent of therapy care dog recipients would recommend the use of a therapy dog in a care environment. This study is readily available at: High level of interpersonal skills Therapy dogs evoke a calming effect as soon as they arrive, so their interpersonal skills are unquestionable. Staff get ‘that cuddle’ which seems a small thing but the photographs speak for themselves. For a small amount of time, staff are not focusing on Covid-19 – they’re just enjoying the cuddle. They’re so patient waiting for everyone to have their moment, Staff still talk about Thunder’s visits long after he has left the Trust.

Supporting Documents

Please click on the documents below to view the supporting documents.

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