Building a Better Health Service


One man and his dog

An elderly gentleman with new onset confusion was admitted to an extra bed on one of the medical wards in Ennis Hospital during the night from University Hospital Limerick. He has no living family members and no contact number for friends or neighbours on admission.

His sole companion in life was his dog. His new onset delerium was attributed to pneumonia but his agitation and wandering around the ward intensified as the night progressed. A staff nurse sat with the patient and talked to him and discovered that he was really worried about his dog, who was going to look after him, how could he see him.


At 4am and with no contact details, this task initially seemed impossible. However, this nurse was on a mission to ease her patients anxiety and deliver person centred care.

A google search found a black and white sheep dog that barked, a printed copy to hold provided company and reassurance.  One of the other nurses found a phone number for a neighbour who offered to go check on the dog and care for it during the owners hospitalization.


The patient settled and slept.


This story was shared at morning report and the day staff all acknowledged the holistic care delivered by their colleagues overnight.  Two first year general student nurses on their first ever clinical placement at morning report received first hand experience of our "lived values" at Ennis Hospital.

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