The Dementia Dog Project builds services for people with dementia that brings dogs back into their lives or supports them to continue their relationship with dogs.
It aims to prove that dogs can help people with dementia maintain their waking, sleeping and eating routine, remind them to take medication, improve confidence, keep them active and engaged with their local community, as well as providing a constant companion who will reassure when facing new and unfamiliar situations.
For more information have a look through our site or get in contact if you would like to get involved.
We are currently recruiting for two new exciting roles to join our team in Scotland! A full time Dementia Community Dog Handler and part time Dementia Specialist will help us to deliver the next exciting phase of the Dementia Dog Project as we trial new ways to help people living with dementia in broader community settings. To find out more please click here
National Lottery gives Dementia Dog Project
significant funding boost
Dogs for Good has received a significant boost for the Dementia Dog Project that the charity runs in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland, thanks to a National Lottery grant from the Big Lottery Fund. The grant, of £314,022, will allow the Dementia Dog Project team to take their learnings beyond an individual assistance dog approach, to support people with dementia in community settings.
The funding will enable Dogs for Good and Alzheimer Scotland to pilot a series of ‘Dog Day’ community events and goal-oriented therapy intervention pilots in Scotland and trial areas in England, using trained dogs. The therapy, known as Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI) is a well-established practice in many parts of the world, but is less advanced in the UK. Specialist handlers and trained activity and therapy dogs work alongside support workers and health care professionals to help people facing daily challenges, in this case for people living with dementia.
More than 500 people living with dementia will directly benefit from these initial trials, with evaluation measuring wellbeing and economic benefits for both the people with dementia and their carers.
Community Dogs, supplied by Dogs for Good, will undergo their advance training at HMP Castle Huntly, an open prison near Dundee and the operational base for the Dementia Dog Project. Here, working with the Scottish Prison Service and Paws for Progress CIC, this innovative partnership enables men in custody to gain valuable employability skills and improve their overall well-being, while also helping to provide highly trained dogs to help people living with dementia.
In the community, pools of volunteer handlers and their pet dogs will also be recruited and trained in trial areas, to help establish new training standards and test the viability of delivery mechanisms on a larger future scale.
Maureen McGinn, Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, said: “This pilot project from Dogs for Good is an excellent example of how National Lottery funding can help groups test out new ideas or approaches. There is evidence which shows that dementia assistance dogs can help people with dementia and their families live more fulfilling, independent lives. So we are delighted to be able to fund some of this work in Scotland and I look forward to hearing more about the development of this pilot over the coming months as it plans to expand into England too.”
Peter Gorbing, chief executive of Dogs for Good said: “This grant will allow the Dementia Dog Project team to test and pioneer new approaches to reduce social isolation and bring joy and meaning into the lives of people with dementia. Through our work training dementia assistance dogs we have seen the positive contribution that dogs can make to people’s lives. This boost in funding for the Dementia Dog project will help us to reach even more people living with dementia in the community.”
New evaluation phase for ground-breaking Dementia Dog programme
HammondCare’s Dementia Centre has been awarded the tender to provide research evaluation of the ground-breaking Dementia Dog Project in Scotland.
Director of the Dementia Centre, Associate Professor Colm Cunningham, said the evaluation would take place over the next three years and would examine the impact of assistance dogs for people living with dementia.
“The Dementia Centre is delighted to have been chosen as the programme evaluators for this exciting work. Preliminary data from similar programmes, including our own Dogs4Dementia in Australia in partnership with Assistance Dogs Australia, has demonstrated that assistance dogs can have profound benefits in the areas of social interaction, family and carer support, independence and routine.
“Respecting individual family experiences and circumstances along with the application of technology will all contribute to this evaluation process,” A/Prof Cunningham said.
The Dementia Dog Project is a collaboration between Alzheimer Scotland and Dogs for Good, and is funded by the Life Changes Trust. It commenced in 2012 with four dogs and this new phase will see an additional eight dogs placed in Scotland with people living at home with dementia. This evaluation process will focus on these new placements.
HammondCare’s Dementia Centre has offices in Australia and the United Kingdom with the Centre’s UK team leading the evaluation.
Fiona Corner, Project Manager for the Dementia Dog Project, welcomed the Dementia Centre’s appointment and said its strong research credentials, experience of assistance dogs work in this field and sensitivity to the needs of people living with dementia and their carers were key factors in the selection.
“We are delighted to appoint the Dementia Centre as evaluators for this next phase of the Dementia Dog Project, offering a great opportunity to further strengthen our international learning and collaboration in this pioneering field.”
Today at HMP Castle Huntly, together with partners the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and Paws for Progress CIC, we are excited to jointly launch Scotland's first prison-based assistance dog training programme.
Through this innovative collaboration, Paws for Progress, aided by their fantastic trained rescue 'Ambassadogs', will offer an introductory dog training and care programme for men in custody.
Upon completion of the introductory course, participating students have the opportunity to advance their dog knowledge and handling skills through a variety of ways, including working with the Dementia Dog Project on site to help equip dogs with the skills they need to help somebody living with dementia.
Peter Gorbing, CEO of Dogs for Good can see the far reaching benefits,"This really demonstrates positive social outcomes, both for students at HMP Castle Huntly and people in the community who will benefit from the dementia assistance dogs."
This pioneering partnership will help boost our training capacity to provide dementia assistance dogs, while also contributing towards the positive rehabilitation of participating students, helping improve communication, team work and emotional management.
Rebecca Leonardi, Director and Founder from Paws for Progress explains, "This inspiring project represents a true win-win-win situation, unleashing the potential of returning citizens to contribute positively to society."
In partnership with the University of Stirling, Paws for Progress will continue to monitor the rehabilitative outcomes for students in custodial care as the partnership develops over the next few years.
This marks an exciting milestone for the Dementia Dog Project, who will work on site as we embark on our next phase of the project to train and place a further eight dementia assistance dogs in Scotland, thanks to funding from the Life Changes Trust.
Henry Simmons, CEO of Alzheimer Scotland adds," Its a wonderful example of collaborative working to develop different types of support for people living with dementia. As the numbers of people developing dementia in Scotland increases there is a clear and urgent need for creative and innovative solutions."
Meet the new team!
We‘re delighted to announce two recent appointments into the Dementia Dog project, thanks to funding provided through the Life Changes Trust.
Fiona Corner has been appointed as Project Manager. Fiona brings 15 years fundraising experience to the Dementia Dog project, with the past 2.5 years spent working for Assistance Dogs Australia in Sydney. Here she has gained valuable insights into their Dogs 4 Dementia pilot which has been successfully trialled ‘down under’.
Kerry Gough has been appointed as Assistance Dog Instructor. She brings a wealth of experience working with people with both physical and learning disabilities. For the last 3.5 years, Kerry has been working as the Children’s Instructor at Dogs for Good, matching dogs to families with children with physical disabilities to create life changing partnerships.
Patients were thrilled to welcome the Dementia Dog team to Ailsa Hospital this week for a relaxing afternoon filled with pawing and petting.
The dogs were a joy to be around as they gravitated towards the dementia patients from the minute they bounced into the physiotherapy department.
Ayrshire College students were only too happy to come along and help out at the event too, which informed patients and carers about the benefits of assistance dogs.
After taking the dogs for walks around the building and playing with them for half an hour, the group listened to presentations from Medical Detection Dogs instructor Mandie Danks, and Bernard Wallis, speaking about Canine Partners.
The fantastic Tynetec/Legrand teams put in a tremendous effort to help raise funds for Dementia Dog. Their Just Giving total is now well above £7K and they plan to continue raising money until they reach the magic £15K figure required to fully sponsor a dementia dog and name him in memory of their fallen friend/colleague Billy Graham.
Stuart Carroll: 2:48 (47th overall and 3rd in age category)
Paul Watson: 4:33
Ben Senior: 5:25
Ade Kiely: 6:33
Marathon Relay team: 6:24
1st leg, Fiona Ridley
2nd leg, Martin Cory
3rd Leg, Samantha Boothroyd
4th Leg, Samantha Barclay
Tanya Da Silva, 2:23
Stuart Carroll has a few words of thanks for their supporters:
"Special mention to Kieran McCausland for being our official photographer, David Boothroyd for being chief supporter and to Martin Cory and Samantha Barclay for becoming relay stand in's at the 11th hour. Also, A valiant effort in the marathon by Stuart Barclay that saw him pulling out at 22 miles with a foot injury."
Our Dog Day Tour continued with a visit to Ayrshire College in Kilwinning for Dementia Awareness Week. Visitors were greeted by Ayrshire College students and regular pooches Albert and Poppy.
The special Dog Day attracted record numbers of visitors, who enjoyed presentations by Mandie Danks, Medical Detection Dogs and Linda Whitby, Therapets.
The event was finished with a lively game of dog bingo that had everybody smiling.
We were delighted to welcome Rebecca Leonardi from Paws for Progress this month. Rebecca brought along Ellie, Bonnie, Mojo and Jack to delight and entertain everyone.
It was heart warming to hear the positive impact this project is having on the people and dogs involved. Find out more about Paws for Progress visit www.pawsforprogress.com
Another fantastic Dog Day event, Do Days take place on the last Thursday of every month. This month we were joined by star dogs from Police Scotland and Therapets. We had lots of guests, old and new, and they all enjoyed the presentations and interacting with the dogs.
We even managed to fit in a game of Dog Bingo. Jim Baird took on the role of bingo caller and we had a few giggles at some of his pronunciations of the more obscure dog breeds.
Ayrshire health professionals were invited to Ayrshire College's Kilmarnock campus for a special Dog Day event.
This was the first of three Dog Days on Tour events in partnership with Ayrshire College. The events help raise awareness of the Dog Day model across the whole of Ayrshire and give more people the opportunity to come along and enjoy this wonderful doggy experience.
Presentations were delivered by Mandie Danks, Medical Detection Dogs and James MacDonald, Canine Concern Scotland and Joyce Gray, Alzheimer Scotland.
Along with our partners, Paws for Progress, we are trying to find more ways to bring dogs into care homes.
We visited Strachan Care Home in Barchester to deliver some workshops that will help us develop a new model. We were joined by three lovely dogs from Paws for Progress: Ellie the Collie, Bonnie the Springer Spaniel and Mojo the Black Rockstar Patterdale.
We were delighted to meet some fantastic characters, who were just enchanted by the dogs, and it was great to hear their stories too.
Ayrshire College students joined us for the March Dog Day and got to see first hand the positive impact dogs can have on the lives of people living with dementia.
The Kilmarnock Campus students were keen to get involved; they helped welcome the guests, make teas and coffees and joined in with all of the activities. They were also lucky enough to catch this month’s presentation by Ruth Thompson from Guide Dogs UK, who brought along a guide dog puppy Kane.
There was a great deal of excitement this month as we welcomed Heather Smith and her dancing dogs to the centre. Heather has won many awards with her dogs, including Crufts Heelwork to Music – so we knew we were in for a treat.
Heather and Dare, a rescue dog, delighted us with their wonderful dance moves. Music and laughter filled the room and it was plain to see how much everyone was enjoying the show.
Next up was Heather’s dog Dinky, who is a bit naughty, but a big hit with the crowd, followed by a Q&A session. Lots of people had questions for Heather, who was happy to share her dog training tips and stories of doggy stardom.
As the afternoon comes to an end, people were relaxed and interacted with the dogs, as they chatted to each other; all signs of another successful event.
We were delighted to welcome Mandie Danks from Medical Detection Dogs to our January Dog Day event. Mandie brought along Christel, a Labrador Cross Retriever who is part of the Medical Detection Dogs socializing scheme and our ‘Star Dog’ for the day.
Mandie spoke about the Medical Detection Dogs socializing scheme, which requires volunteers to take puppies into their home for up to eighteen months. The puppies are trained and socialized in a domestic environment to help them on their way to becoming Medical Alert Assistance Dogs.
Medical Alert Assistance Dogs are trained to assist individuals who manage complex medical conditions, such as diabetes, POTS, Addison’s and severe nut allergy on a day-to-day basis.
Christel proved to be very popular with the guests and regular pooches Albert and Poppy, as she got to know everyone after the presentation. With lots of dog themed activities to keep everyone amused and a pop up shop, provided by The Pooch Pantry, the day was a great success.
Continuing the link with our Australian partners the team were kindly invited to present at the Hammond Care International Dementia Conference in Sydney, Australia.
This year the title is Grand Designs - perfect for our project with its service design roots.
Jeni and Helen will represent the team sharing stories of the project, our plans for the future and the key lessons learned. We look forward to learning lots and inspiring more people to embrace dogs as a means for supporting dementia and fly the flag for service design!
Our latest mini pilot is beginning in January with a great team in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
We are exploring the benefits of dogs to people with dementia exhibiting stress and distress.
The team will explore and report on how dogs can impact on behaviours like apathy and agitation.
The aim is to show that dogs can help people to engage more in their environment and with the staff, provide calm and comfort to those who are in distress and also make a positive impact on the moral and stress of the ward staff.
Watch this space for progress reports.
Our Dog Days are becoming increasingly popular; the latest event attracted over thirty visitors. Two local care home Activity Co-ordinators brought residents in mini buses, with support staff. We also had four new people, as well as a few regulars.
Expert dog trainer and assessor Ken Hamilton showcased the medal-winning retrieval skills of his talented German Wire-haired Pointers, Rolfe and Evie.
Guest enjoyed interacting with the Star Dogs and with our regular pooches Poppy, Albert and Danna.
Guests also participated in dog word searches, dog bingo and dog colouring activities, which kept them entertained and helped stimulate
Congratulations to our Australian friends Hammond Care and Assistance dogs Australia on the successful launch of their Dogs 4 Dementia website in October 2015.
This great programme aims to place eight assistance dogs with families living in New South Wales and Victoria. Recently the South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland have been included in the pilot. Great stories of Nina and Jihu, the first two assistance dogs, are beginning to emerge from their respective families.
We had a great time in Arbroath last year when Colm (Director of Dementia Services, Hammond Care) and Alberto (National Programmes Manager for ADA) came to speak with the team and some of our families as we shared our learning. A great example of knowledge transfer
We will continue to collaborate and help support each other as the projects mature, so watch this space for more good news stories from down under!
Many thanks to Colm Cunningham for his work in taking this concept to Australia and involving us in its development.
We are thrilled that NHS Education for Scotland (NES) has selected Dementia Dog as its Charity of the Year. Joyce and Alex received a warm welcome from the NES staff at Westport when they attended the Pay-Day Cake sale in June.
A massive thank you to NHS Education for Scotland and to all of those taking part in fundraising activities on behalf on Dementia Dog.
The team has been invited to present the Dementia Dog project at the House of Lords In January 2015.
This is at the request of the National Office of Animal Health to celebrate the benefits pets bring to the lives of older people.
They are keen to highlight the medical benefits of companion animals, for example with dementia and depression. We are delighted to have been asked to this prestigious event.
Alex 4 Paw and his canine chums and helped to raise £30,000 to go towards completing the pilot scheme and allowing Alzheimer Scotland to measure just how much of a difference dogs like them make to people living with dementia.
You can still get involved – all you have to do is show Alex what your dog is thinking. Join the fun on Facebook and Twitter by posting your dog selfie using the hashtag #Alex4Paws. Once you’ve posted, make sure to nominate four dog owner friends and then donate £4 by texting BARK04 £4 to 70070 (or £10 if you like!). It couldn’t be easier! You can also donate online if you prefer through out donate page.
With your support a dog like Alex can continue to help people living with and affected by dementia.
Two of our Intervention Dogs; Paddy and Evie featured in the Alzheimer Scotland Annual Review. They helped share the story of the intervention dog pilot which ran in Kilmarnock throughout 2014.
This year members of the Dementia Dog team, Selina Gibsone and Helen McCain from Dogs for the Disabled, spoke at the Assistance Dogs International Trainers Conference in Denver, Colorado.
Helen and Selina presented at the conference to share learning of the work of the Dementia Dog team placing the first Dementia Assistance dogs. The presentation was very well received and sparked much interest in the field of how dogs can help people with dementia in many different ways. Since then the UK team has been in communication with organisations from across the world who would like to learn more.
Dementia Dogs has a regular slot on the Dementia Champions Training programme at University of the West of Scotland.
Alzheimer Scotland, a DD partner, are key in the delivery of this programme and Dementia Dogs have provided 6 comprehensive presentations on the pilot progress and benefits to the families over the last few years.
Dog days have commenced at the lovely new Kilmarnock resource centre, these are designed to enhance therapeutic activity for people with Dementia and their carers, bringing an opportunity for peer support enjoyment and friendship. The dog is a catalyst to share experiences of previous family pets with their antics and affection encouraging interaction and laughter. The dog days are also used to ensure that carers are given respite; a trained complementary therapist offers short treatments for carers and people with Dementia. The session is facilitated by the inspirational Ayrshire link worker Jennifer Risk, who also ensures a range of self management information and materials is provided. There have been three dog days held in 2014 and more are planned in 2015.
In early summer we worked with Hammond Care (Australia) who was working on a collaborative bid to the federal government in New South Wales to obtain funds for a Dementia Dog pilot down under.
The teams enjoyed a fair few early morning and late evening conference calls to the other side of the world sharing the learning form the early stages of the Dementia Dog pilot. The concept has a substantial international interest and we are currently working with an organisation In Canada to do a similar type bid.
In June the team had one of the keynote sessions at the Dementia Awareness week conferences, Joyce and Jeni presented overview of the inception of the project and then we spoke of some of the emerging findings. This was very well received and was rounded off by the show stopping Ken Hamilton with Rolf and Evie, the benchmark dogs for intervention dog training. Ken and Evie brought the house down when they demonstrated some new task work that is being developed as a result of the initial project findings.
As a way of controlling our progress reports we had a front page feature in Alzheimer Scotland’s key external publication ‘Dementia in Scotland’ This gave us an opportunity to share our progress with Alzscot members and supporters who have been a great help in championing the pilot.
The Featured David and Maureen with their assistance dog Vonn alongside Alec, Alex 4 paws and Moira.
One of our Partnerships Alec, Alex four paws and Moira were featured in The Dundee Telegraph in Feb 2014 – some lovely footage and great comments from Moira
It’s been a wonderful change. Things are a lot calmer, and it’s all down to him.” Alex four paws has been dubbed the horizontal champion and his laidback manner and soulful eyes win the hearts and minds of everyone who meets him.
Our fabulous dog trainer from Guide Dogs Shirley Stewart, managed to brave a storm to present at a gathering of NHS staff at Ninewells in Dundee. She took the lovely KASPA one of our original assistance Dogs, and managed to deliver the presentation and also raised some vital funds.
Our first two dementia assistance dog teams are now officially qualified and working with people in the early phases of dementia. This makes them the first official dementia assistance dogs working in the UK.
For more information on how the dogs are helping check out the stories section.
Dementia Dog along with Dementia Circle & Dementia: Digital Futures (two other projects using design innovation to help people affected dementia) held an exhibit & workshop at the Alzheimer Scotland Self Directed Support Conference on the 23rd of September 2013. As a group we were trying to identify the small everything problems people are faced with, while at the same time looking for possible solutions.
Dementia Dog held a presentation at the Guide Dog Training Centre in Forfar for NHS professionals interested in the project. We discussed the applications of innovation in healthcare and got some fantastic feedback from the group on ways to develop Dementia Dog’s various services. This was topped of with a demonstration from Von, one of our assistance dogs in training. Thanks for attending guys!
Running from 2013 through to the middle of 2014 a team of dementia support workers alongside Katy Hawker the then Dementia Adviser, worked hard to build and deliver this pilot. The Intervention dogs visited families in and around Kilmarnock who live with Dementia and had an outcome focused therapeutic approach. This pilot evidenced similar learning to the assistance dog pilot. This is reassuring us of the ongoing benefits of dog interventions. This gives us strength to develop the ongoing model at the end of the various pilot stages.
The 3rd to the 9th of June 2013 was Scotland’s National Dementia Week, and to mark the occasion some of the Dementia Dog team where asked to hold a workshop at the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Connections Conference, hope everyone who attended enjoyed it! We were accompanied by Ken Hamilton (pictured left) and his dogs, Rolf & Evie, who are joining us in our new intervention dog pilot.
Dementia Dog was one of the finalists in the ‘One to Watch’ category at the 2013 Scottish Social Service Council Care Accolades. Some of the team went down to pitch to the judges on Thursday the 25th of May. The overall winner was announced on the 31st of May 2013 at an afternoon tea and award ceremony at Perth Concert Hall… unfortunately we did not win but did receive the judge’s commendations in our category.
In March 2013 Dementia Dog was invited to exhibit at the National Health Exposition at the London Excel. Setting up camp in the ‘Dementia Village’ (next to the band stand), we had 4 great dogs with us over the 2 days who quickly became the stars of the show. It was a great opportunity to meet some influential people and see some other innovative dementia projects that are happening across the country.
Dementia Dog is supported by Alzheimer Scotland. Alzheimer Scotland - Action on Dementia is a company limited by guarantee, registered in Scotland 149069. Registered Office: 22 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh EH3 7RN. It is recognised as a charity by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, no. SC022315. Visit our main website at: www.alzscot.org