A Doll Therapy Project (Community story)

Community Article by Lyn Reid of Hepburn Health Service ©Dementia Care International

Lyn shares the results of her project using doll therapy in aged care to help reduce anxiety.

As part of this project, I monitored blood pressure, pulse rates and body language before introducing the doll; during interaction with the doll; and after the doll was removed.

The outcomes were very positive. There were slight changes in blood pressure and pulse rates but the overall indicator was the body language. Residents who showed negative traits before they received the doll became relaxed while they had the doll and on most occasions remained relaxed after the doll was taken away.

When I first introduced doll therapy I found that the staff had a negative attitude to this approach. However, with continuous education about the value of the therapy, we now have 100% support from nursing staff and on-going support from management.

The dolls all have pushers and cots and are treated like real babies. They have brought much enjoyment to the lifestyle of our residents and are now also used as an intervention with those who wander etc.

We also have soft toy cats, kittens, and puppies for residents who do not show an interest in the dolls. These have the same positive effects. One of our ladies, Doris, used to have cats before she came into care. She has taken to one of the soft toy cats. She carries it with her at all times and adores it. Doris feeds the cat and on most occasions won’t let it out of her sight. The cat has brought enjoyment and purpose back in to her life and often works as a distraction if she is upset or restless.

Doll Therapy is the best therapy I have implemented within my complementary therapy program and I use it at all three campuses where I work.