Baby doll therapy willaid dementia patients

An award winning dementia unit that has a bus stop to aid memory and calm patients is adopting another therapy tool - life-like baby dolls.

Poynings unit opens on the Hurstpierpoint Ward in the Princess Royal Hospital to help patients with dementia

Ward Manager Lisa Godfrey at the bus stop with a patient
Poynings unit opens on the Hurstpierpoint Ward in the Princess Royal Hospital to help patients with dementia Ward Manager Lisa Godfrey at the bus stop with a patient

Lisa Godfrey, who manages the Poynings unit on Hurstpierpoint Ward at the Princess Royal Hospital, says baby-doll therapy is particularly effective for patients with severe dementia who struggle to communicate and may be withdrawn or agitated.

Lisa said: “We are looking for donations of the baby-kind of doll like Tiny Tears and wondered if anyone could help us?”

“If you give patients with severe dementia a baby doll to cuddle they often communicate through the doll and talk to it.

“It seems to draw them out of themselves and calm them down.”

Cuddling a baby doll can stimulate memories of a rewarding time in a mother’s life and rekindle familiar parenting roles stored in the emotional memory.

Props to aid memory on the Haywards Heath based unit have a vital calming effect on patients who can feel frightened and confused if they need a hospital stay for surgery or other treatments.

Lisa has a number of therapy tools on the unit, including a bus stop.

She explained: “The bus stop provides a focal point and if you put chairs by it, it registers something in the memory and patients sit down with a magazine or a cup of tea instead of wandering aimlessly or feeling agitated.”

Lisa would like to put a post box at the other end of the ward to provide another focal point.

“We need a small post box to attach to the wall if anyone has one,” said Lisa, who would like an older-style post-box that is more likely to trigger a memory.

In another example of best practice, Lisa has set aside a ‘memory’ room on the ward with old-fashioned wallpaper, older style furniture and an older-style television set.

The unit is a joint venture between Sussex Partnership, the foundation NHS trust providing services for mental health patients in Sussex, and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals - the NHS trust running the Princess Royal Hospital.

If you have a life-like baby doll or an old post-box, Lisa would love to hear from you.

You can contact her via the Princess Royal Hospital on 01444 441881 (ext’ 8254).