A HOSPITAL chaplain and his therapy dog who help to ease staff stress have been showcased as the way forward for health trusts.

David Anderson, chaplain at East Lancashire Hospital Trust which runs Royal Blackburn Hospital, and his dog Jasper met with the Care Quality Commission safeguarding team last week to explain about the trust's ‘Listening Lounges’, where staff can access individual and group support sessions.

The lounges have been running at the NHS trust for the last year, and staff describe them as a lifeline that have helped them openly discuss their fears and experiences during an extremely challenging year.

The sessions provide an open forum to talk with David and their colleagues, and staff are guided through the hour-long sessions with questions and opportunities to share their feelings.

The Listening Lounges have been recognised by NHS England, with Catherine Randall, national deputy head of safeguarding at NHS England, as one of the ‘ten most inspiring call for actions during the pandemic’.

Following the presentation to the safeguarding board, David said: “It was a great privilege to present to the board and many of the senior CQC inspectors. It is so important that the experience of staff is heard at the highest level and recognised.”