Robotic cats and distraction sleeves helping Thurrock residents with dementia

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A TRIAL using robotic cats with a resident in a local Essex care home has made such an impact, Thurrock Clinical Commissioning Group has worked with Thurrock Council to purchase more to support people affected by dementia.

It is well known that pets often soothe people and make a person happy with a sense of purpose, Dementia patients frequently become agitated, anxious and frustrated and could benefit from a pet, but would have difficulty in managing the safe care of a real animal. Research has shown that an effective, drug free way to soothe a dementia patient is to give them a soft toy they can interact with.

Introducing the dementia robotic cat. This item is sold by an American company and it has shown to provide comfort for people living with dementia. It’s a battery powered cuddly fake cat that purrs, meows and moves. It also responds to touch when its petted and hugged. During this Covid emergency where people are unable to visit their relatives, they provide much needed comfort.

Mark Dorado, Community Mental Health Nurse within the Older Adults Wellbeing Team commented;

“Our patient used to be very agitated and unsettled, but the cat has worked miracles, they seem much calmer.”

Irene Lewsey, Head of Mental Health Transformation and Commissioning for Mid Essex CCG said:

“We know that for people with dementia having something to focus on, who reacts to them in a positive way can be hugely beneficial and calming. We had pleasure in offering this robotic cat option to an agitated patient in a care home, which has proven to be a success.

“We are now investing in further robotic cats for other patients with dementia in homes across south Essex.”

Cllr James Halden, Cabinet Member for Children and Adult Social Care, said: “I am delighted that this initial trial with the Thurrock CCG has made such an impact that we are able to help more of our residents who are living with dementia.

“Strengthening the wellbeing of those living with dementia in Thurrock, particularly during this time when COVID-19 has meant that many people are potentially alone for extended periods of time, is vital. It has been proven that pets can reduce the effects of dementia, such as anxiety, depression and loneliness, and we hope that dementia sufferers living in our borough will be comforted and benefit from the companionship of these therapeutic robotic cats.

“We will continue to work with the Thurrock CCG to ensure that dementia patients living in Thurrock get the vital support and care that they require.”

In addition to the ‘cats’, further work has been done to support people going into hospital with dementia by getting community knitters to make Twiddle Muffs, Lap Blankets and Aprons. These items are given to patients to keep and offer something to keep them distracted and less distressed. 60 have been made and distributed so far, patients get to keep them.

Each Robocat and Twiddle muff is for single patient use only.

To help in the quest to knit further Twiddle Muffs, contact your local CCG to check out where to send them.

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