Residents of Camelot House and Lodge in Wellington, Somerset, are enjoying the company of three new baby dolls, provided for their therapy by their specialist dementia care provider the Camelot Care group.
Activities co-ordinator Richard Dempslake said: “Our three baby dolls have been a huge hit and they provide comfort, emotion and reminiscence to our residents.
“We have many items of clothing and accessories including bottles, bath, prams and Moses’ basket, so they can be dressed, washed and even have nappy changes.
“Our residents love to hold the babies, sometimes holding on to them all day, rocking them and singing to them, basically rediscovering the warm, nurturing feelings of caring for a young child.
“The babies all have names: Violet, Isobel and Lavender. Many names were suggested by residents and these three names were picked out of a hat.”
Nurture therapy is recommended by Dementia UK, who report that having a doll to interact with can stimulate communication, leading also to improvements in communication with other people.
It is known that cooing to a baby doll can sometimes serve as a trigger to resume communication for people with dementia who have not spoken for months.
Proper therapy dolls are life-like in feel and weight and are dressed like a real baby. They should be carefully introduced in a controlled atmosphere, allowing the resident to ‘take responsibility’ if they wish to, and this can reintroduce valuable structure to people’s lives.
Employed in this way, the dolls seem to inspire a renewed sense of purpose, which can lead to increased activity levels and liveliness.
Other benefits include the dolls serving as a distraction from a dangerous, harmful or upsetting event.