Oaklands Students share the animal love with Lister Children

22 January 2017
Animal Care students from Oaklands College decided to share their world to help the wellbeing of others, by taking their animal family to lift the spirit of children in Lister hospital. 

The group of students, studying Level 3 Extended Diploma in Animal Management based at St Albans Campus packed up snakes, spiders, hamsters and even snails to visit patients currently in the hospital’s Bluebell Ward, dedicated entirely to the needs of children.  

A visit from the animals to the children on site provides light relief and a welcome distraction in what can be a challenging experience for some patients.  

The visit is the first time animals have taken to the road for hospital visits, following the success of previous visits from the College’s Beauty students for some on-site pampering for dialysis patients.

Although the animals remained enclosed in secure carry cases for hygiene and safety reasons, children were able to interact with them and chat with the students to learn all about how they care for them. 

The students also made ‘real size’ paper prints and models of the world biggest spider and snake, to spark their imagination and show just how big some of the creature can grow to. The hour-long visit proved a welcome distraction from their children’s treatments. 

As well as the benefits for patients, the visit was a challenge for the students to ensure the correct transportation and care of the animals, carrying out vital checks on their welfare and taking responsibility for them away from their home on campus.  The visit was an important lesson in taking their studies out of their usual comfort zone. 

Lecturer in Animal Care Colin Elcombe said: “Considering this was our debut visit to the hospital, we were keen to ensure the visit was entirely suitable for the animals and also beneficial for our students and most importantly, the young patients.

“We are incredibly proud of the professionalism of our students here today – it’s a valuable lesson about how animal interaction can really make people feel good. We would love to make it a regular visit. “

Jane Shaw, the Lister Hospital’s Community Projects Officer said, “We can’t thank the Oaklands staff, students, and animals enough for their help today.  Visits such as this help to improve patients’ experience in hospital, and have an important role in raising spirits and mental outlook, which in turn can aid physical recovery.  It’s great to see the smiles and wonder on the children’s faces when they meet the animals – it really makes your day.”