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HUGs all round as dementia innovation launches

​News | 19 October 2021

A close up of the HUG device with it's smiling face

HUG by LAUGH today officially launches HUG™ - a ground-breaking therapeutic calming device designed to comfort people living with dementia

The public can now buy a HUG™ for themselves or a loved one direct from HUG by LAUGH or from the online store of Alzheimer’s Society UK.

The new business has been developed to commercialise dementia research led by Cardiff Met’s Professor Cathy Treadaway, which was funded by Welsh Government under the SMART Expertise European Regional Development Fund. The LAUGH EMPOWERED project has been a collaboration between the University, NHS, Sunrise Senior Living Ltd. and supported by Stroke Hub Wales.

HUG™ was developed for a person living with dementia who benefited greatly from this product that gives the sensation of giving and receiving a cuddle. It has a soft, squishy textile body and weighted limbs that wrap around the body. Inside is a simulated beating heart and an electronics module that can be personalised to play a playlist of a person’s favourite music.

The LAUGH EMPOWERED project trialled and evaluated 40 HUGs with patients in an NHS hospital and Sunrise residential care home in Cardiff. Findings from the evaluation study shows how HUG™ can help reduce anxiety and improve the quality of life of people living with dementia and post stroke cognitive impairment.

HUG by LAUGH, led by managing director Dr Jac Fennell, Associate Tutor in CSAD, is partnered with Alzheimer’s Society UK through its Accelerator programme. The scheme aims to help commercialise products that will benefit people living with dementia and speed up their route to market to make a positive difference to their lives.

Prof. Treadaway said: "We have been thrilled by the success of the research project and delighted that HUGs™ are now available to buy. Most of us love having a cuddle and over the last 18 months that’s been so difficult, especially for people who are vulnerable or isolated. We are very grateful to Welsh Government for funding us and Alzheimer’s Society, NHS and Sunrise Senior Living Ltd. for partnering us in this work."