A DEMENTIA patient spoke to her carers for the first time in 18 months as she was handed a robotic cat aimed to comfort sufferers.

Interactive cats and dogs are being trialled across south Essex to keep dementia patients living in care homes company.

One elderly lady in Admiral Court care home in Manchester Drive, Leigh hadn’t spoken for 18 months until she was given an interactive cat.

When the cat was placed on her lap and she stroked the interactive animal she muttered “beautiful” - much to the joy of staff at the home.

The cuddly mutts and moggies move, purr and bark just like the real thing but with no vets bills and no need for daily walks.

Irene Anderson, dementia care co-ordinator at the home, said: “It’s been amazing.

“We gave it to one person who was non-verbal and her reaction was amazing.

“She’d been with us for 18 months and she’d only ever said an occasional yes or no.

“We put the cat on her lap and put her hand on it to stroke it.

“She tried to speak to us and then said “beautiful”.

“Now she has the cat all day long and we’ve named her Whiskey. I go in and as how they both are and she smiles and tries to speak and says hello.

“It’s really amazing how she is interacting with it.”

Southend, Castle Point and Rochford Clinical Commissioning group bought a number of interactive animals for an initial trial which is now being expanding across south Essex.

The group has also purchased interactive tables which allow a number of participants to play music games and puzzles.

In addition, the Rainbow Tables also allow brain and memory training which is vital to dementia patients.

A spokesman for Southend, Castle Point and Rochford Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “During lockdown care homes residents have been unable to go out or receive visitors, therefore providing them with comfort, interaction and stimulation.

Following a trial using robotic cats with a resident in a local Essex care home – the evidence of the positive impact was so great that over 200 more have been purchases to provide more to support people affected by dementia.”