Empathy dolls and pets have become a popular choice for effective dementia care.
In this blog, we explore how empathy dolls and pets can be used with those living with dementia and the activities that can be done, as well as the comfort they can bring, within your care home.
What are empathy dolls and pets?
Empathy dolls and pets are realistic toys that can be used as a companion for those living with dementia.
They have the additional benefits of providing sensory experiences too. Some dolls include specialist clothes and accessories, and some pets have special hand-warming or ‘hiding’ pouches too.
Why are empathy dolls and pets used?
Doll and soft toy therapy is widely recognized as an effective therapy, especially for dementia patients.
They naturally draw out a resident’s caring and nurturing instincts. They can have a very calming effect. There are a wide range of dolls to be found, both boys and girls, which are weighted to provide further realism when they are sat on a lap or cuddled.
These dementia care items can also act as a comfort when the resident forms a bond with the doll or pet. They become a special item to cuddle and cherish.
Some of the empathy pets available will also ‘breathe’ and look as if they are curled up sleeping, giving a person with dementia the opportunity to feel as if they are settling and soothing them just like they would a real cat or dog, for example.
They offer a realistic pet ownership experience, and the act of smoothing and stroking a companion pet can be very calming.
How can empathy dolls and companion pets be used in activities?
Washing, dressing and changing
As mentioned, an empathy doll can draw upon a person’s natural nurturing and caring instincts, and this includes feeling compelled to take part in activities such as wanting to wash, dress, and change the clothes of the doll, like they would with a baby or young child.
It can bring back happy memories of looking after their own children or grandchildren, and also bring an additional sense of purpose. The doll's clothes themselves can include additional sensory stimulation – including buttons, tags, ribbons, and more. This can encourage dexterity as well as offer tactile stimulation for keeping restless hands busy.
The dolls and pets are great talking points for care staff to use to stimulate interaction. You can talk with those living with dementia about their doll and pet – asking their name and the activities they have shared.
Games and activities
Some companion pets are designed to support further entertainment and activities, within dementia care.
For example, there are companion pet dogs that have a pocket, meaning they can be used as hand puppets, to help with games or to share stories.
Some also have pouches that can be filled with items with different scents, sounds, and feels, as well as used as a ‘hiding place’ to play guessing games.
The pockets inside a companion pet can also act as a hand warmer and the pouches can also be filled with a special bag of granules that can be warmed in the microwave for additional heat and comfort for the hands, on the lap, and over the knees.
Where can you order or buy empathy dolls and companion pets?
We are proud to offer a wide selection of special companions that can be of such comfort to those living with dementia.
Wippet stocks Precious Petzzz, Joy For All Companions, Fiddle Pups, Joyk Empathy Dolls and more, as well as a range of clothes and accessories, from trusted UK supplier, Activities to Share .
Choosing an empathy doll or pet companion can be a sensitive task, so explore and compare our full range to decide which could be best for your special patient, resident, or loved one.