The Rotary Club of Wakefield has been actively involved in the fight against Dementia since 2011. The cats are supplied under the trade name – Joy For All - by Ageless Innovation (USA) and are very realistic, they move, turn over, miaow and purr. They are controlled by four batteries and can be silenced or muted.
The project accelerated in 2018 after a BBC programme ‘Let’s Get a Good Thing Going’ and the club started to receive enquiries from all over the UK. Realising the benefit of making the cats available to other Rotary Clubs, Wakefield Rotary featured in the Rotary magazine thus setting out to not only respond to local requests, but also to supply them to other clubs in return for a donation to reflect the costs involved. Retailing at over £100 Wakefield Rotary try wherever possible to keep a supply going by asking clubs to donate towards the costs involved and we discuss this with the clubs concerned.
In 2019 the ‘Your Cat’ magazine worked in partnership with Wakefield Rotary to promote the benefits of the robotic cats and launched an appeal to raise funds. As a result, a further 20 cats were purchased and then, in early 2020, they asked readers to nominate an individual or care home who might appreciate a cat free of charge.
The 20 cats were distributed all over the UK and each one was delivered by a member of the local Rotary Club. Some donations followed, in addition to individual contributions or occasionally a grant from other charitable organisations.
In August 2020 ‘Your Cat’ published several letters and emails from people who had received a cat, and this generated several other requests to provide them.
Wakefield Rotary always try to provide a cat either free of charge or ask for a donation towards the cost and enquiries can be directed to the club by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org Wakefield Rotary welcomes enquiries from Rotary Clubs in the UK, from private individuals or care homes.
So far over 250 cats have been donated. Responses from relatives, friends and Rotarians who delivered them have been poignant, moving and full of gratitude. This is a small project which requires little effort, but the outcomes provide comfort and joy to many who find themselves in a lonely place.
A message from the Manager of Walton Manor Care Home, Wakefield which illustrates the effectiveness of these therapeutic companions when used by some patients with dementia:
"I would like to say a massive thank you for the Rotary donation of the cat to Walton Manor. In a short period of time, you have changed people's lives.
We have a lady at Walton Manor who is living with Dementia. She has over the past few months become so frustrated that she called out and screamed a lot of the time through the day. We have tried all sorts to help with this as carers, using different activities, stimulation and reassurance; nothing worked. Then you brought the cat!!
This lady has cuddled, named and loved him. She no longer shouts out and is happy and content. We were amazed at the change and the new life this lady now has.
A family member whose mother has Alzheimer’s witnessed this and bought a cat for her as she showed episodes of anxiety and depression. This has also stopped.
Not only have you changed the life of these ladies, but you have given our staff a knowledge of the different kind of needs people living with dementia may have.
I cannot thank you enough for what you did for us and please don’t hesitate to ask if we can return the favour to you.
Manager, Walton Manor"
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