A Bideford care home has become one of the first places in the UK to use robotic pets as therapy for its elderly residents.

KC the dog might be a robot but elderly residnets at Kenwith Castle care home near Bideford already love him.KC the dog might be a robot but elderly residnets at Kenwith Castle care home near Bideford already love him.

Kenwith Castle at Abbotsham is enjoying great results with the special pets that respond to touch and speech and are designed to reduce stress and anxiety in residents.

KC the dog and Keno the pony may just be bundles of wires but they make noises when stroked and showing they can help those suffering from dementia.

The Care South home introduced the therapy pets six months ago and they have been a huge success amongst the residents, providing stimulation, comfort and companionship.

The home does also work with live therapy animals, which also visit.

Robotic therapy pets are yet to be introduced nationally in dementia care, but there has been very recent research into PARO, a robotic therapy seal.

This has demonstrated that these can help reduce stress and anxiety, promote social interaction, facilitate emotional expression, and improve mood and speech fluency, in residents with dementia.

Rae Vanstone, home matron at Kenwith Castle, said: “Our residents really enjoy having these pets in the lounges with them, it gives them a feeling of being at home.

“They engage with KC, our dog, and Keno the pony, and can often be found petting and soothing them when they make noises.

“One resident’s family has bought their own robotic dog which they keep in their room and is very real to them.

“We often have live therapy animals coming into the home too which can be really effective. Having the robotic pets means we can use them at all times of day and for longer periods.”

Susan Willoughby, chief executive at Care South, said: “At Care South, we are continually looking at ways to embrace technology, and evolve and enhance the care we provide to our residents offering the best quality care to help them feel relaxed and importantly, at home.

“We have been very impressed with the results we have seen so far with the introduction of the robotic pets at Kenwith Castle and we are keen to see how this develops in our other homes.”