A landmark project that matches assistance dogs with people suffering from dementia has been awarded £300,000 to expand.
The dogs-cum-companions give people with dementia reminders of daily tasks such as taking medication.
Alzheimer Scotland had teamed up with Dogs for Good, Guide Dogs UK and product design students from Glasgow School of Art to kick-start the project and have been given a £300,000 grant to expand dementia dogs after a successful pilot.
For the last three years, four dogs have been trained to assist with patients, reminding them to take medication, encouraging them to get out and about and stimulating social interaction.
The funding will be used to support existing dogs, as well as train a further eight to be placed with people living with dementia.
Ken Will, a dementia sufferer, has been living with Kaspa the Labrador since 2013. Kaspa has been trained to help Mr Will with his anxiety, which has worsened since his diagnosis.
“Kaspa has given us our life back. He greets Ken in the morning, so Ken starts his day happy. I have noticed if Ken is agitated or unsettled Kaspa gives him a nudge so Ken talks to the dog or goes out in to the back garden and forgets what had bothered him. Kaspa has removed my fear that Ken had gone, life is so much better for both of us now. Ken is happy and it has taken so much stress away from me as well”, said Mr Will’s wife, Glenys.
She added: “Every day we wake up knowing it’s going to be a good day thanks to Kaspa”.
Joyce Gray, deputy director of development at Alzheimer Scotland, is hoping the success of the dementia dog project will spread worldwide.
“Dementia Dog has also allowed us to bring a fresh approach to the challenge of dementia. We are overwhelmed that Life Changes Trust has supported the project to this level. It shows such faith in the potential we know the project can deliver to the dementia community. We will be able to extend our work, deliver innovation and joy to families who participate, and share our work on a global stage”, she said.