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Heart-warming footage shows the moment two nurses cheered up a 93-year-old stroke patient by arranging a visit from his only two ‘family members’ – pet guinea pigs Max and Martha.

Fred Walker has been in Blackpool Victoria Hospital since November, so when he mentioned how much he was missing his furry companions, two staff members found a way to bring them in.

Jenny Day, a trainee assistant practitioner, and health care assistant Dean McDermott phoned the RSPCA who told them the guineas were staying with one of Fred’s neighbours.

Unit manager Leanne Macefield described how former navy steward Fred’s face lit up during the surprise visit on January 29 and said his happiness ‘couldn’t be put into words’.

Jenny and Dean collected the pig from Fred’s neighbour after hearing how much he missed them (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

She said: ‘This is the sad thing – Fred has no family members, he only has those two guinea pigs.

‘That’s why Jenny and Dean wanted to bring them in so much because he doesn’t have a reminder of home.

‘It made me feel amazing to be fair because we forget that pets, whether you’re a pet lover or not, are people’s family.

‘To see that he was so happy to see something he’s used to at home and that is his world, I don’t think you can really put it into words how amazing it was.

‘You could see it all over his face just how happy he was.’

Staff said Fred’s happiness ‘couldn’t be put into words’ (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

Leanne added: ‘On my unit people can visit whenever they want so he sees everyone else’s visitors come and go but he doesn’t have any of his own.

‘It’s just his neighbour who comes to visit him. He doesn’t visit very often, I think I’ve seen him once this week.

‘I think Max and Martha recognised him because even when I went in they were snuggled under him as they would probably be snuggled at home.

‘And if strangers went near him they put their heads up to look at us as if to say “what are you doing?” and then they’d snuggle right back under his arms. It was really cute.’

Dean described how Fred ‘had a massive smile on his face’ when they were brought in.

He had been in a ‘low mood’ beforehand, which can be a side effect of stroke, Leanne added, but other patients on the ward ‘couldn’t believe the difference in how his face lit up’ afterwards.

Relatives there to visit other patients gathered around Fred’s bed to see him and his furry companions (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

She continued: ‘The bed space was packed – there must have been five or six relatives including someone’s little girl.

‘Fred’s face when he saw everybody watching him and his guinea pigs – he was the happiest that we’ve ever seen him.’

Leanne explained how it wasn’t the first time pets had been invited in for visits, but added it was usually dogs rather than rodents.

She said patients’ rehabilitation ‘is enhanced’ and ‘they’re motivated because they want to get back to what they had before’, adding: ‘On top of that they’re trying to speak to their pets.

‘So those patients who have speech problems following a stroke are actually practicing their speech interacting with their pets.

‘They have a reminder of what is at home, which is easy to forget once you’ve been in hospital for a long time.

‘I am very proud of the nurses for enabling this. They have really thought outside the box to ensure our patient gets the best care and experience possible.

‘It is wonderful to see Fred’s reaction to being reunited with his pets.’


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