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Dementia Therapy Pet Pilot Scheme

We are running a pilot scheme using ‘breathing’ dementia therapy soft toys in a local care home to benefit dementia patients. According to Dementia UK, the use of life-like pets/soft toys can support those with dementia by

  • Easing anxiety – stroking the pet toy or holding it can relieve stress and improve wellbeing through calmness
  • Happiness – it may remind them of a time when they had a pet themselves or create feelings of affection
  • Renewed purpose – having something to touch/care for can connect them with the outside world and increase involvement/activity levels
  • Increased communication – enabling improved sociability, having something to talk about with others/family, stimulating communication

By introducing life-like cat and dog toys to residents and working with the care home to monitor the benefits over an initial six-month period (from March 2021), our Social Prescribing Link Workers team is able to understand the benefits of these therapy toys to patients in our PCN. If the pilot is successful, there is an opportunity to further roll out this project in our locality.

Initial feedback is extremely positive: residents are already showing increased social interaction, calmness, reduced anxiety, plus happiness and improved wellbeing.

The Alzheimer’s Society states

  • There are currently around 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. This is projected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040.
  • 209,600 will develop dementia this year, that’s one every three minutes.
  • 1 in 6 people over the age of 80 have dementia
  • 70 % of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems

Detailed NHS RightCare Intelligence data and Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) which looks at the current and future health and care needs of local populations, combined with input from voluntary organisations and service leads for adult and children’s services, plus mental health and public health, has helped inform our initial areas of work which includes the support of elderly patients.