Huggable 'pets' offered to help dementia patients at South Tyneside and Sunderland hospitals

Furry friends are helping to comfort patients with severe dementia through one of the simplest forms of therapy – a cuddle.

Tuesday, 25th January 2022, 12:15 pm

The sensory cat and dog aids are being offered to help sooth patients during their stay within South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.

The Precious Petzzz are described as ‘life-like, breathing, huggable pet’ with bellies which move up and down to mimic breathing, as they sit on someone’s lap to be stroked and loved.

Each is single-use to comply with COVID-19 rules, which also means the patient can take them home, complete with an adoption certificate, once they leave South Tyneside District Hospital or Sunderland Royal Hospital.

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Dr Holly Gillott, Deputy Ward Manager Angie Cooper and Dr Dominic Maxfield

The project has been led by the Trust’s Nursing and Quality Team. Melanie Johnson, director of Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professionals said: “Spending time in hospital can be particularly daunting for our patients with dementia and sometimes having something familiar can bring them great comfort.

“Our sensory toy cats and dogs have already made a big impact on our patients and staff. In fact one patient commented that the dog reminded her of a late pet and made her happy.”

Once taken home, Precious Petzzz require very little maintenance and can give their new owners a sense of purpose and enjoyment.

Precious Petzzz work in partnership with leading charities such as Alzheimer’s Society to provide the pets to those who can benefit from them.

Precious Petzzz sensory toy

The trust introduced a small number in wards across both acute hospital sites and they have been so successful it is going to continue to offer them to those people who find them a comfort.

The aids have been endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Society and introduced in accordance with Dementia UK guidance.

To personalise the pets, the Trust is asking patients and staff to help come up with names for the cats and dogs.

One has already been named Meg in memory of the late pet of one of the Matrons, with designs including a Jack Russell, Pug, Labrador, Cavalier King Charles spaniel, Poodle and a Yorkshire Terrier in addition to a variety of cats. All come with their own bed.

Precious Petzzz sensory toy

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