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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Search for the next dementia dog

PEOPLE living with dementia are getting help from a new friend – a furry one.

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Helping paws: Clint the dementia dog with Debbie Ellwood (centre) and Abi Concha (left), both of Bellcare with Jane Lewis who saw the benefits of regular visits to her mother at her home

Home care firm Bellcare has been successfully using its pet dog Clint to connect with patients who may otherwise have been lost to the illness.

Following his success in the Penrith area, staff are now looking for a dog to join their West Cumbrian team, covering Allerdale and Copeland.

Suffering from severe dementia, Connie Place seemed to be slipping away from her family – no longer the wife and mother she once was.

Even Bellcare staff were at a loss as they struggled to persuade her to get out of her chair, to get washed and dressed in a morning.

That was until Clint came along. Mrs Place had always been a dog lover, but nobody expected that this friendly collie could help bring her back to her family.

An office dog, staff had mentioned him to Connie when they were visiting her Pooley Bridge home one day – and something changed. All of a sudden Mrs Place was listening, so they decided to bring him to meet her.

Daughter Jane Lewis remembered: “When Clint came in my mum’s eyes just lit up. She loves dogs and it made her day, so they brought him back again.”

Clint became a daily visitor to Mrs Place’s home, where she lived with husband Ken until she died in April this year, aged 90.

Jane will forever be grateful to Clint for helping her connect with her mother in those last few months.

“She looked forward to seeing him, she was more relaxed and it made the whole business of having a carer a lot easier,” she explained.

Debbie Ellwood, Bellcare’s care manager in Allerdale and Copeland, is now looking for a new West Cumbrian dog to help other clients in a similar way.

The owner of a previous dog moved away, so they are looking for another with a similar nature to Clint to join them.

Anyone who can help is asked to call 01900 872030.

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