Guide Dogs and Assistance Dogs
The nature of general practice is such that guide dog / hearing dog (“assistance” dog) access is common and desirable. The purpose of this policy is to set out a few simple principles for dogs on the premises.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission define assistance dogs as dogs trained to help people with hearing difficulties, epilepsy, diabetes, physical mobility problems and more.
Dogs that are not assistance, hearing or guide dogs will not be permitted entry to the Practice.
- The practice welcomes assistance dogs. This includes dogs in training where a “walker” is in control of the dog rather than a disabled owner.
- The practice will manage the presence of assistance dogs without recourse to the owner and will pay particular attention to infection control and housekeeping whilst dogs are on the premises.
- The practice will offer appointments for patients at the end of the clinics to manage exposure to patients who are phobic or have other health issues.
- Appointments will not be booked with clinicians who have stated that they are phobic or have allergy related issues or other health conditions.
- Physical contact with a dog by clinical staff will be resisted during consultations or examinations, and whilst a general surgery is in progress.
- Hand washing or alcohol hand gel will be used by staff after any physical contact with a dog, whether during a consultation or not.
Care will be taken by clinical staff to identify other patients in the surgery list for that session who have been identified as potentially being adverse clinically to the presence of dogs. This will include patients who are:
- allergic to dogs
- phobic to dogs
- or have another medical reason and consideration will be given to allowing them to wait, or be seen in an alternative room
Cleaning staff will be advised to pay particular attention to a room known to have accommodated a dog that day
- In the event of an incident involving a dog, a significant event record will be created.
- Owners of assistance dogs will be given the opportunity to “tour” the practice and the grounds with their assistance dog to enable the dog to become familiar with routes throughout the building, including those routes seldom used. This will include routes to and from:
- Public / disabled toilets
- Through fire exits and on to assembly areas
- To usual GP and nurse rooms
- Access and egress to the building by normal routes
- and will be given the opportunity for “refresher” practice on a regular basis.
As part of the high level of training an assistance dog receives there are unlikely to be any incidents giving rise to special concern, and the following aspects of these dogs on the premises are likely to be standard behaviour for these animals:
- The dog will wear a special identifying harness or jacket and collar tag
- Dog will remain on a lead in close contact with the owner
- The dog will usually lie quietly with the owner when waiting to see a clinician and is trained to behave well in public places
- Dog is unlikely to foul any area not within its usual habit and are trained to go to toilet on command, and will be well-groomed (minimal loose hair)
- The dog will be in good health, physically fit, with vaccinations and care programme up to date