Interactive pets bring joy and comfort to people in the community

Life-like robotic pets, that respond to motion, voice and touch, are helping to combat loneliness and isolation – thanks to an innovative scheme introduced by nurses at John Taylor Hospice.

The hospice’s Personal Health Budget (PHB) and Social Care Team has purchased three interactive pets which are available on loan to provide comfort and companionship for patients in the community.

Clinical Nurse Specialist Debra Gregory said: “Our team currently has two dogs and one cat. The pets can be thoroughly cleaned before going to their new home, meaning we’re able to offer them on loan so more people can enjoy them.

“The pets react to the sound of your voice and respond to your touch, and the cat even rolls over for tummy rubs. This two-way interaction means people receiving palliative and end of life care can experience the joy of owning a pet without the commitment and responsibility.

“The feedback we’re receiving about our new cuddly companions has been so positive. They’ve been going to stay with people living with dementia, and people experiencing social isolation and loneliness. One person that our team supported named her new companion ‘Lucky’ as she said she was ‘lucky to have him’ and she found spending time with the dog calming and comforting.”

Clinical Nurse Specialist Debra Gregory

Introduced in Birmingham in 2019, and pioneered by John Taylor Hospice, the PHB programme helps people at the end of their lives to have a more personalised experience of care – ensuring they have greater choice and are able to tailor their health and social care to their specific situation and needs.

Debra added: “Our project has supported hundreds of people across Birmingham and Sutton Coldfield. This support has ranged from seeking help with cleaning and household chores, to providing beds and linen so people can die at home in comfort and with dignity surrounded by their loved ones. We’re committed to expanding this service so it can reach even more people, and ensure people at the end of their life have a voice, the ability to take control and make informed choices.”

To read more about the work of the PHB and Social Care Team, please visit

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