Hug dolls to help patients with dementia at Derbyshire care home

A care home in Derbyshire is introducing new HUG dolls for residents with dementia.

The dolls have weighted limbs and a simulated beating heart, and are designed to mimic the feeling of cuddling another person. 

Willowcroft care home in Spondon is hoping the dolls will make a difference to residents living with dementia. The dolls are meant to calm those in the advanced stages of the condition, who can often become agitated and anxious. 

They're using six of the dolls and say they're having an impact on the wellbeing of residents.

"It has brought her massive comfort, it alleviates the symptoms of anxiety and she treats it like a baby, she wants to put it to bed at night, she wants it to go in a pram during the day and she really gets a lot of benefit from it," said Kate Prince, who manages the home.

"We have found that the dolls become a topic of conversation and stimulation amongst the residents as well as alleviating the symptoms of dementia which are the anxiety and stress symptoms," she said. 

The dolls have been particularly helpful after care homes have been badly affected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bans on visiting led to many residents not being able to see, speak to, or touch relatives for months at a time. 

Ms Prince said that such contact had, therefore, been "something very much lacking for people with dementia."

"All homes went in to lockdown and there had never been more of a need for care home residents to get a hug," she said.