Robotic dog lends a paw at care home for the elderly

  • Tuesday 17, April 2018 in 11:56 AM
Sharjah24 – Reuters: Beloved pets can create memories that last a lifetime. For 99-year-old Ron Grantham that includes happy times when he used to go fly-fishing with his dog 'Spot'.
"We were about half a mile away from open country, and there was a river there and I used to do all my fly-fishing. I used to salmon fish," he said while stroking and petting a dog called 'Biscuit'. 
 
This particular dog, however, doesn't need feeding or taking for a walk: he's a robotic toy brought into Ron's care home in the south of England to give residents regular access to a furry friend and encourage social interaction. 
 
Many of the residents have dementia, and dogs - even robotic ones like Biscuit - are a good way to elicit memories and spark conversations with care providers.
 
Originally released by U.S. toymaker Hasbro, Biscuit the dog has become a permanent fixture at Templeman House. When the residents touch him he will wiggle his nose and make all the noises of a real dog; barking, whining and panting. He'll also lay down, sit up and give a paw.
 
Care South, which owns Templeman House and several other residential, nursing and dementia care homes in the south of England, said live animals do regularly come to their homes to interact with residents. But real animals eventually have to go home, whereas Biscuit can be on-call 24 hours a day and even visit residents confined to bed rest. Care South said Biscuit was particularly effective at reducing stress and anxiety in residents with dementia.
 
Despite gaining in popularity in countries like Japan, robotic therapy pets are yet to be introduced nationally in British dementia care.