At Astley Hall we are currently decorating and have increased the resources in our dementia care unit. We always look at therapeutic ways to improve the quality of lives of our residents.
Our carers believe in a holistic model of dementia care and non-pharmacological treatments in addition to any medications that doctors may prescribe. We try a variety of alternative therapies. These include music therapy and art therapy. We know that what works wonders for one person, may not have such beneficial effects for someone else.
Therefore, to add to our range of therapies, we have recently introduced doll therapy at Astley Hall. Just look at the faces of our residents in these photos to see how amazing their response has been.
The effects of dementia
It is widely acknowledged that distress is a common feature of dementia.
It is estimated that 60-90% of people living with dementia will have some level of distress. As a result, people with dementia can have anxiety, anger, depression, fear and suspicion.
Furthermore, the debilitating effects of dementia make it difficult for the person to express his or her needs. Tom Kitwood, a pioneer in person-centred dementia care said “if a need is not met, a person is likely to decline and retreat. When the need is met, a person may be able to expand again.”
Why doll therapy?
Doll therapy can help a person with dementia express unmet needs. The action of holding and cuddling a doll is an expression of safety and nurturing.
Loss, separation and insecurity are experienced by dementia sufferers and are an attachment need. Therefore, a doll, which is linked to childhood can be “an anchor for people with dementia in a period of uncertainty” (Loboprabhu et al, 2007). Further, “embracing a transitional object may be considered a representation of the personal support they yearn for” (Bisiani and Angus 2012).
The references in this article are from researchers in dementia care. The quotes are taken from an article called The Therapeutic Use of Doll Therapy in Dementia by Gary Mitchell and Hugh O’Donnell, published in the British Journal of Nursing in 2013. Please click on the link below to read more.