Meet the robot dogs and cats cheering up lonely older folk
They bark, they wag their tails - but they don't need taking for a walk.
Meet the robotic dogs - and cats - who are being brought into Lancashire care homes to help keep residents company.
Twenty of the robotic pets have been handed over to care homes following a fundraising drive by Lancashire County Council and Lancashire 50+ Assembly, which raised more than £1,800.
The animals behave just like normal pets - the dogs bark and wag their tails, while the cats meow and perform actions like washing their face - but without the usual feeding and grooming needed for real pets.
Research has shown that robo-pets can help tackle loneliness and isolation and are the perfect companions for people with dementia.
County Coun Joan Burrows, champion for older people, said: “Keeping pets is really important for many people and they miss having a dog or cat around when they move to a care home.
“These robo-pets are fantastic because they look and act like the real thing. The dogs bark when they hear you, the cats purr when you stroke them.
“They are relaxing and calming and encourage care home residents to socialise as they share memories.”
Living with loneliness carries the equivalent risk of smoking fifteen cigarettes a day and national figures provided by Age Concern show that 200,000 older people have not had a conversation with friends or family for a month.
The county council is still looking to raise money so that more care homes across Lancashire can have a robo-pet.