Northern Trust makes services accessible to all

The Northern Health and Social Care Trust recently launched their Assistance Dogs Policy to ensure services are accessible and responsive to all sections of the community and to provide an appropriate service to assistance dog owners so that they are not refused access to Trust premises.

The policy was developed in partnership with members of the Trust’s Disability Consultation Panel and was launched at the assistance puppy training class in the Sentry Hill Leisure Complex, Ballymena. 

Alison Irwin, Head of Equality, for the Northern Trust commented: “We are delighted to launch the Trust’s first Assistance Dogs policy.  Some of the most vulnerable in our society access our services so, as a Trust, it is important that we ensure that staff are more aware of the needs of assistance dog owners.  I would like to thank everyone on our Disability Consultation Panel who helped us to develop this policy. “

Assistance Dogs NI have six assistance dogs placed who support people with physical disabilities and autism and they have a further five puppies in training. 

Assistance dogs, guide dogs, hearing dogs for the deaf and medical alert dogs are not pets but highly trained animals that act as aids to disabled people, enabling them to be independent.  Some people would find it extremely difficult to cope without them.

Anyone wishing to obtain a copy of the policy should contact the Trust’s Policy Unit on (028) 2766 1322.


Geraldine McGaughey, Chair, Assistance Dogs NI; Hubert Nicholl, Mayor of Ballymena Borough Council and Alison Irwin, Head of Equality, Northern Trust pictured with assistance dog users and guide dog users.

Page last updated:22 July 2014