Robotic therapy pets, which respond to touch and sound and provide stimulation and companionship, are also growing in popularity in care homes, with one in 10 care home staff (11%), saying their care homes have them. Robotic therapy pets mimic real animals and include life-like dogs which bark and furry cats which miaow and purr.
Doll therapy and robotic pet therapy are becoming more recognised as a way of calming and comforting people with dementia, although doll therapy in particular can be controversial as it can be challenging for relatives to see their family member cradling a doll and there have been suggestions it infantilises people with dementia.
Experts in the field have a number of tips for those considering the therapy. These include introducing the doll gradually, using the doll at appropriate times and ensuring people do not neglect their own needs in favour of the dolls.