The Dementia Dog project was awarded £293,477 in September 2016, to run until August 2019.
The Dementia Dog project provides specially trained dogs to 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. Dementia Dog is a collaboration between Alzheimer Scotland and Dogs for Good.
Dementia Dog started its life as a Glasgow School of Art service design project commissioned by Alzheimer Scotland that secured funding from the Scottish Executive and the Design Council. In April 2013 Dementia Dog embarked on its first small-scale pilot scheme, placing four dogs.
The purpose of the Life Changes Trust award was to provide a further 8 assistance dogs to improve the quality of life and independence of a person with dementia. In an innovative training programme, the Scottish Prison Service provided a base for the Dementia Dog team at Castle Huntly, helping establish the UK's first prison-based assistance dog and rehabilitation programme. It offered an introductory dog training and care programme for men in custody and demonstrated positive social outcomes, both for those at HMP Castle Huntly and people in the community who benefitted from the dementia assistance dogs.
Assistance dogs have full public access rights, enabling them to support and accompany their owners wherever they go. This includes public transport, doctors, hospital appointments, cafes, restaurants and shops.
The eight dogs funded by the Trust are still helping families start each day with a smile, and helping them cope and feel more resilient to the daily challenges associated with living with dementia.
You can read more about the Dementia Dog project here
EVIDENCE AND LEARNING
In October 2020, the Life Changes Trust hosted an online webinar ‘Dementia: A Whole Life Approach – Dementia Dog Learning Event’ where we examined the findings of an independent evaluation of the project, produced by HammondCare.
We also spoke to two families who have dementia assistance dogs, and looked at the journey of the dogs, from when they were puppies, through training and finally being matched with their families in their new forever homes. Finally, we looked at impact and recommendations for future dementia dog funding.