Dancing with Dementia, based in Salford, has donated dolls to care homes across the city in the hopes of keeping residents calm and to feel less isolated during the lockdown.
The charity usually holds a weekly dance event for people with the condition and their carers to socialise and listen to a live band.
However, due to lockdown restrictions, the group was no longer able to meet, which founder Lesley Fisher, 69, said inspired the project.
She said: “We used to have over 100 people that came to the dance [event] so now you’ve got all these people out in the community that are missing that connection and getting together.
“The activities coordinators at the care homes were asking for help because they were finding it very difficult with lockdown.
“There were no visitors coming and they couldn’t take them out anywhere.
“They were crying because they’ve not seen their relatives so they suggested the dolls.”
The dolls were donated by Lesley’s family, friends, and charity shops in Salford to keep the residents calm as people with the condition can often show signs of anger and aggression.
Lesley spoke about how helpful the dolls have been, saying: “The dolls have a calming effect.
“A lady was sleeping most of the time and when she wasn’t sleeping she was angry and a little bit aggressive and the doll has calmed her down.
“This one doll has got this lady off out of the chair, walking round the care home and smiling rather than being angry.”
She added that they stop the residents from feeling isolated and gives them a purpose as they are changing the doll’s nappy and taking it for walks around the care home.
As they are dressed in clothes that babies typically wore at the time they may have been mothers, Lesley said this takes them back to a place that is familiar to them.
She hopes this will be something that will be introduced in care homes across the country and could be explored, in some cases, as an alternative treatment to normal medication.
Lesley said: “You do need medication to slow down some of the processes but I think if people are just being sedated for the sake of keeping them quiet, I don’t like that.
“If holding a doll or a cat or a dog will calm them down and have the same effect as a sedative I’d much prefer the doll, the cat or the dog.”
“If we are pumping drugs into people that they don’t need and there is an alternative that is complimentary to the condition, I think that is a far better route to go down.
“If someone is aggressive and violent, then, by all means, the medication is a must for the person’s safety and the safety of the other people around them but if just the doll will help them then I think it’s a pathway that should be tried.”
Find out more about Dancing with Dementia here.