Grantham dementia service adopts robotic animals to help patients

A robotic cat and parrot have improved the lives of dementia patients at the Manthorpe Centre in Grantham.
A robotic cat and parrot have improved the lives of dementia patients at the Manthorpe Centre in Grantham.

Dementia patients in Grantham have been given robotic pets to help them with their care.

The patients at the Manthorpe Centre, run by Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT), have been given two cats and a parrot called Peter which can blink, yawn and respond to voice control.

Occupational Therapist studentTasha Laming brushes one of the robotic cats prior to use on the ward at the Manthorpe Centre in Grantham.

Occupational Therapist studentTasha Laming brushes one of the robotic cats prior to use on the ward at the Manthorpe Centre in Grantham.

The Manthorpe Centre cares for older adults suffering from dementia. Occupational Therapist, Liz Lester was the first person to introduce them to the ward and believes they go a long way to helping the patients regain a strong sense of identity.

Liz said: “I was reading about a man who was struggling to communicate with his mother after she had been diagnosed with dementia.

“He designed Pete the Parrott – a robotic bird that looked as good as the real thing - and then reported how it had an amazing effect on how his mother responded to the care she was receiving.

“I thought we could give it a try at Manthorpe and it has received a positive reception. Our patients are in unfamiliar surroundings and these animals are great at helping us to build positive relationships with them and add value to their lives.”

Occupational Therapist Liz Lester was the innovative mind to bring the robotic animals onto the dementia ward at Manthorpe Centre in Grantham.

Occupational Therapist Liz Lester was the innovative mind to bring the robotic animals onto the dementia ward at Manthorpe Centre in Grantham.

Patients who suffer from dementia often find it difficult to communicate and express themselves.

But Occupational Therapist student, Tasha Laming, has seen first-hand that the animals can engage with the people the service treats, and in some cases says the patients and the toys have become inseparable.

She said: “Many of our patients often suffer from speech problems and struggle to produce coherent sounds without even realising.

“One day a patient was not very receptive to the questions I was asking her. So we gave her one of the toys and she started to respond more positively as if she was talking to the cat.

“It really was heart-warming to see, and it is these kinds of magical moments that make you remember the smallest of things can mean the most.

“The animals help our patients interact, and if it makes their lives more productive then we will continue to use them as part of our service.”