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The power of a HUG: Implementation of assistive technology across a health board

Fennell, Jac; Lloyd, Matthew


Matthew Lloyd


HUG, a soft comforter specifically designed for individuals with advanced dementia, was developed by the HUG by LAUGH team at Cardiff Metropolitan University. With weighted arms and legs, a soft body, and a simulated beating heart, HUG aims to provide comfort and promote connection. It features a built-in music player that can be programmed to play the favourite music of the person with dementia.

The HUG has been proven to reduce agitation and anxiety, and support comfort and connection for the person living with dementia to the world around them, their carers and their families. Through extensive research and development, HUG has transitioned from a university research prototype to a market-ready product. In 2021, it was launched by the spinout company HUG by LAUGH, with support from the Alzheimer's Society Accelerator Programme. Since its introduction, HUG has gained popularity worldwide, positively impacting the lives of thousands of individuals.

This paper focuses on the implementation of HUG as an assistive technology tool within a Welsh health board, specifically the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB). The ABUHB initiated the largest trial to date with 500 HUGs being used across the region, funded by the Gwent Regional Partnership. As the first health board to introduce HUG across all dementia care settings including community, care homes, and hospitals, ABUHB aimed to evaluate its effectiveness and address the challenges associated with implementing new assistive technologies in care settings.

To ensure a successful rollout, the HUG by LAUGH implementation group was formed to guide the process, raise awareness, and ensure equitable distribution across the Gwent region. In partnership with TEC Cymru, the HUG by LAUGH service evaluation began in July 2022, involving a series of case studies that highlight both the challenges and positive outcomes of implementing HUG at scale across various care settings. This presentation will share the findings of these case studies and provide insights into the future of assistive technology, particularly in care settings where products like HUG can make a significant impact.


Fennell, J., & Lloyd, M. (2023, November). The power of a HUG: Implementation of assistive technology across a health board. Paper presented at UK Dementia Congress, Aston University, Birmingham UK

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name UK Dementia Congress
Conference Location Aston University, Birmingham UK
Start Date Nov 7, 2023
End Date Nov 8, 2023
Deposit Date Nov 7, 2023
Keywords Dementia, Design, Assistive Technology
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