Comfort Doll For People With Dementia
When a HUG is all you need.
In 2020 I was an exhibitor at the Dementia Show in Doncaster and instantly fell in love with HUG. HUG is a comfort doll for people with dementia. With a cheerful face and super-soft fabric, it feels lovely to the touch. HUG felt warm, and soft and was a joy to HUG making you not want to let it go. I can completely understand the comfort this would give to someone with dementia or any condition causing anxiety or distress.
What is HUG?
HUG is a comfort doll for people with dementia. Specifically designed to be held and cuddled by people who are in the advanced stages of the disease. This Eskimo-like doll has weighted arms and legs and a soft body. The body contains a simulated heartbeat and a music player that can be programmed to play the person’s favourite music. Similarly comprehensive research has shown music is good for people with dementia. Since it’s known that hearing is the last sense that is lost to the disease. Doubtedly music can stimulate memories, and be therapeutic and calming.
How can this help people with dementia?
Subsequently, as the disease progresses people can become more isolated, agitated and anxious. Currently, there are very few products available that bring comfort, connection and meaning to the lives of people in the latter stages of the disease. Additionally, many products need you to “do something” in order to create an effect. One such example would be magic water painting. A HUG just needs a hug!
The story so far
HUG™ has been developed from academic research. It was tested over the course of four years in hospitals, care homes and by people affected by dementia living at home. BBC News shared an article about HUG™ in 2019.
Research has shown that it can improve quality of life. It helps reduce anxiety and agitation and enhances social interaction. Many people affected by dementia have experienced the positive benefits of HUG.
The daughter of someone living with dementia said:
‘HUG is a comfort for Mum. Wherever Mum goes, HUG will go. There is a strong attachment and emotional bond.’
A care home worker shared, ‘Using the HUG™ has been an effective way of helping our residents feel secure and loved. It has been lovely to see the smiles and comfort that a HUG™ can bring.’
Partnering with HUG™
The Alzheimer’s Society has partnered with HUG through its Accelerator Programme. Investing in the company is one part of the collaboration and they have worked with the team to help make it commercially available to all.
The charity has supported the project and enabled it to work with people with dementia and their families. It has helped shape the product and packaging. Also, the project has also benefitted from introductions to different departments and individuals. This included training, brand marketing, and communications, along with music and electronics companies.