Our panel looks at a specially developed comforter that’s been designed to make you feel like you’re being hugged.
Read this story in Welsh
We visited a group of people affected by dementia in Newport, south Wales, to show them a product from HUG by LAUGH, a company founded by researchers from Cardiff Metropolitan University.
The Dementia Voice local group had just begun meeting in person again, sharing their views to influence our and others’ work.
We wanted to know what they thought about HUG – a soft comforter that research shows can reduce a person’s anxiety and promote social interaction.
A partnership with the Society’s Accelerator Programme is making HUG available to more people, including through our online shop.
HUG is designed to be cuddled, with weighted limbs and a soft body containing a device that plays a heartbeat and your own music.
Everyone at the group got to try a HUG, and their responses were immediate.
‘It’s like holding a baby,’ said Mike, who had automatically started patting his HUG on its back.
‘It’s instinct,’ said Linda, who had done the same with hers.
‘It’s so comfortable, really comfortable,’ she added. ‘I like the way you can let go and it just cuddles you.’
Despite the weighted arms, Ian was surprised by how light his HUG felt, ‘It’s not very heavy, is it?’
Mike could immediately see how calming it could feel to hold HUG, especially with the heartbeat and your favourite tunes playing.
‘If you were stressed out, you can listen to the music,’ he said.
You use a USB connection to load your own music onto the HUG’s player, and you can adjust the intensity of the heartbeat and volume of the music so that it’s just right for the person using it.
HUG also comes with details about Playlist for Life, who can help you create a personalised playlist for free.
Thinking of someone who hadn’t been able to see visitors because of COVID, Shirley said, ‘You could have a message sent from their grandchildren and play that.’
Group members suggested many other people who might benefit from a HUG, including children who are autistic.
Adele thought she’d prefer it if her HUG’s arms connected behind her neck, using the evocative Welsh word for an especially warm snuggle to express what she meant.
‘I’d like velcro to keep its hands together – that’s comfortable, that’s a “cwtch”.’
Although its designers had decided against connecting the hands of the HUG so it wouldn’t be restrictive, they said they’d look at how they could be attached but still safely and easily pulled apart.
HUG is a warm off-white colour with a fluffier feel to its head, and group members had many ideas for other colours and textures.
Adele said, ‘I’d like it to be orange, because orange is my happy colour!’
‘Different textures would be nice,’ said Linda, and Ian suggested washable leather.
Adele added, ‘I would like what’s on its head to be here too,’ pointing to where her hand lay on its back.
Shirley thought a pocket with different textures inside would be interesting for the person holding a HUG to feel.
‘Like in a twiddle muff,’ she explained, ‘with ribbons, pompoms, toggles and buttons.’
Looking at the instruction leaflet that comes with HUG, Adele and Ian said the text should be larger. The group liked the idea of reading the instructions online, where you can adjust text size, including using a QR code to access them. They also thought an online video could be helpful.
Ian thought the charger looked like one you’d get with a cordless drill. It takes four hours for a full charge, which lasts about two days.
HUG comes with a mesh bag to wash it in a washing machine, after removing the electronic device and an inner cushion, and it can then be air dried.
Group members welcomed the idea that you can sponsor a HUG for someone else, since some people wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise.
All in all, our panel loved their HUGs.
‘I really don’t want to let it go!’ said Adele.
‘It’s brought my heartrate down,’ added Linda.
‘It’s brilliant,’ agreed Ian. ‘Something so simple, but they say it’s simple things that make the difference, don’t they?’
Price (correct at December 2021):
- HUG is £125 plus VAT (as with some other specially designed products, you don’t have to pay VAT if they’re for use by a person with dementia).
Helpful everyday products
We have a great range of products designed to help people with dementia and their carers to be more comfortable in their homes, while supporting independence and safety.
Our online shop offers many products designed to help people affected by dementia to live well at home.
You don’t have to pay VAT on many daily living aids if they’re for use by a person with dementia or other condition – tick the box stating that you’re eligible for VAT relief at checkout.