Dementia patient speaks for first time in 18 months with aid of 'robo-pet'

11 May 2021, 16:10 | Updated: 11 May 2021, 16:19

Residents of Admirals Court care home in Leigh-on-sea have benefitted from robo-pets
Residents of Admirals Court care home in Leigh-on-sea have benefitted from robo-pets. Picture: LBC

By Charlotte Sullivan

The use of robotic pets at a care home in Essex has had “amazing results”, with one resident speaking for the first time in 18 months.

The resident of Admiral Court care home in Leigh-on-sea called a robotic cat ‘beautiful’, much to the joy of her carers, as she held it on her lap and stroked it.

“It’s been amazing,” said Irene Anderson, dementia care co-ordinator at the home.

“Now she has the cat all day long and we’ve named her ‘Whiskey’.

“I go in and ask how they both are and she smiles and tries to speak and says hello.

“It’s really amazing how she is interacting with it.”

The robotic animals move, purr and bark just like real pets, and are a source of comfort, interaction and stimulation that has been lacking for many care home residents as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” said Dr Jose Garcia-Lobera, local GP and Chair for NHS Southend Clinical Commissioning Group.

The robo-pets, which respond to being petted and hugged in much the same way as a real animal, have proved so popular with residents that health and care leaders at the Mid and South Essex Health and Care Partnership have purchased over 200 more.

“Introducing the dementia robotic cat and dog has shown to provide comfort for people living with dementia,” said Irene Lewsey, Head of Transformation & Mental Health commissioner.

"During this COVID emergency where people are unable to visit their relatives, they provide much needed comfort."