23 Oct

Animal Magic


We hope you’ll enjoy looking at the Animal Magic section and feel inspired and equipped to enable patients to have comforting, nurturing, fun, safe contact with animals. The resource was inspired (and funded!) by The Guardian and its super-generous readers when Bright was so fortunate to be one of their Christmas Appeal charities in 2014. The biggest response we got from the warm coverage about mental health wards was about animals, so this website is dedicated to The Guardian and its amazing readers.

Here’s a taste of what’s included in this site

Heaps of Evidence

The evidence base is huge and compelling and the apparent obstacles preventing mental health inpatients from having contact with animals can be addressed with the creativity and compassion which characterise ward staff’s wonderfulness.


It's Confirmed!

Pets are definitely allowed onto mental health wards! The Care Quality Commission and the Department of Health have confirmed this, with the simple and important requirement that this fits in with Trust policy and with patients’ needs and care plans.


Types of Contact

Contact with animals can be on the ward (with resident or visiting pets), off the ward but within the hospital (usually with animals in the garden or a mini-farm) or off site (eg patients helping out at local rescue centres or farms.)


The Practicalities

Wards are really creative in enabling patients to have contact with and conversations about animals, as you’ll see throughout this site. Arrangements can be put in place to respond to patients or staff with allergies, phobias – as well as looking after the well-being of those for whom animals are central to their lives, well-being and recovery.



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You might be wondering – what difference does Star Wards actually make to mental health wards? It’s a question we continuously ask ourselves, to make sure that we are having a positive impact. Well, we have over 800 wards signed up to receive our resources and, in the past, we have had Star Wards independently evaluated. A micro-summary of what our users have said is that wards who tried Star Wards ideas had:

This is not about us, it is about people like you. These improvements are down to your hard work. And you can check our newsletters for wards doing amazing things right now. So we are told we do help you make a difference – and we want to get better and be here to help you in the future. So, join up, join in and let us know your wonderful ideas – and if you can donate to us or fundraise for us, we would be delighted to hear from you. Thank you for all you do.