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Visiting dog Flynn in the waiting room and MRI

From June 2023, Flynn is visiting the radiology waiting room at the Máxima Center one half day a week. He greets everyone warmly, loves to be petted and loves to play games. The children's and parents' reactions to his presence are heartwarming. 

Pediatric anesthesiologist Selma Bons: ‘It has long been my wish to use dogs to reduce anxiety and stress around sedation and anesthesia. This is unique in the Netherlands. There are visiting dogs in some (children's) hospitals, but only for distraction and relaxation. We want to measure the effect on anxiety and stress before a sedation or procedure under anesthesia. It is so special to see what effect the visiting dog has!’ Since last November, Flynn and his handler Laura have also been able to come to the MRI to accompany the children until they are introduced to anesthesia. 

Pilot study 
A pilot study was conducted using questionnaires and observations. The data showed that 82% of the children (all ages) liked the contact with Flynn. Of these, 93% liked the contact and 82% reported that Flynn and Laura made them feel more comfortable. All children in the pilot study said they would recommend contact with a dog to other children. Laura Kaats, Flynn's handler and coordinator of the volunteer visiting dog teams, says: ‘Flynn is now completely in his element at the Máxima Center; he knows his way around, greets the staff enthusiastically, is curious about everyone who comes into the waiting room, and enjoys playing a game with the children.’ 

Dog Visiting Teams
What will Flynn's schedule look like soon? Selma: ‘It is great that this first phase shows that there is a need for a dog team. It's a nice addition to all the attention that's paid to reduce anxiety and stress in the children in our center. We would like to back this up with more scientific research. It would be very interesting to see with which children and in which situations the visits of dogs are most effective. To continue dog teams to visit the Máxima Center in the future, money is needed. These costs are not reimbursed. The Máxima Foundation is raising funds for this purpose. Would you like to contribute? Please click here. 

Next steps 
Laura: ‘We now have seven volunteer visiting teams who are being trained, and we hope to have more, so that together we can have a presence at radiology of 10 half-days. The new teams are in training from mid-February. And then the key question: is expansion to other locations an issue? If you ask the children from the pilot project, they would like to meet Flynn and his friends in more places: in the room, when talking to the doctor, when puncturing, and so on. A number of children answered to the point: ‘Everywhere.’ 

A father of a child being treated at Máxima started an action for this project after meeting Flynn: https://www.maximaalinactie.nl/fundraisers/renzo-noordermeer