Introduction to HUG by LAUGH

HUG held by person

HUG by LAUGH® (HUG) is a sensory device designed to bring people pleasure and comfort. The device has been designed by Cardiff Metropolitan University specifically for people living with Dementia but can be used by people with various conditions.  In Gwent, HUG is being tested in a range of different settings to test effectiveness. It has weighted arms and legs along with an optional beating heart within its soft body.  It can play personalised music that can be changed to a favourite playlist. The HUG "magic box" which provides the heartbeat and music runs from a rechargeable unit which is removed when washing. 

HUG by LAUGH in Gwent

  • The Gwent Regional Partnership funded the HUG by LAUGH introduction across the region in 2020
  • Gwent was one of the first areas in Wales to take delivery at the end of 2021
  • A HUG by LAUGH implementation group has been established to guide implementation, raise awareness and ensure fair distribution across Gwent
  • A HUG by LAUGH evaluation commenced in July 2022 in partnership with TEC Cymru

HUG by LAUGH Resources

HUG Training

HUG Magic Box being inserted into the HUG

Key Features of the HUG by LAUGH

  • Arms and legs are weighted to make the person holding it feel safe and secure
  • It has a beating heartbeat that is run on batteries this can be removed for easy washing
  • You can create a playlist that can be added to the HUG so the person can be comforted with their favourite songs along with the beating heart, so it feels realistic

HUG by LAUGH Benefits

  • Reduce the number of falls a user may have
  • Increase general well-being and mood
  • Increase in appetite
  • Communicate with others more frequently

HUG Feedback / Impact Case Studies

HUG by LAUGH Research

HUG Development Background (from HUG by LAUGH Website):
Many residents living with advanced dementia are chair or bed-bound and due to their communication difficulties often receive few visitors. The team designed ‘HUG’ for a lady who was considered by her carers to be in the final stages of the disease. She talked and ate little, was chair-bound, and no longer socialised with the other residents. Her carers told the research team that what she needed most of all was a hug. In response to this brief, a long-armed, soft cushion-like wearable object was developed, with the hands and feet weighted to replicate the sensation of a hug.

The object was made out of a furry fleece textile that is soft and comforting to the touch. ‘HUG’ has a simple floppy head with sleepy eyes, nose and mouth; the weight and form are evocative of a sleeping child. Digital technologies were used to replicate the sensation of a rhythmic heartbeat, and when moved, sensors activate a microcontroller and speakers inside the body cavity to play the residents’ favourite music. ‘HUG’ has been a huge success from the outset. As soon as she received ‘HUG’, the resident snuggled into it, rested her head and closed her eyes to enjoy the sensation of the heartbeat and music. A few moments later, to the amazement of the care staff, she spoke a few words for the first time in many weeks. In the subsequent three months, the research team returned to the care home to qualitatively evaluate the object and its effect on the resident.

Professional care staff in the care home corroborated the research teams’ observations of positive change, reporting that they were convinced that ‘HUG’ had improved the resident’s wellbeing. They reported a significant drop in her number of falls, her appetite had returned, as had her desire to communicate and socialise with other residents. Her hands that had initially been twisted into tight fists had opened and relaxed over the three months of the study and she had regained the use of her fingers.

Further Research Information on HUG:

For further information regarding the research that has been undertaken for this project can be found by following this link: LAUGH Research Features Article - LAUGH Project