The Birth of Daisy: The Origins of the Comfort Companion

Calming Doll for Alzheimer's and DementiaThe Comfort Companions line consists of a wide variety of soft comfort creatures, from dolls to animals to pillows, designed to relieve stress and bring comfort to people of all ages, especially the elderly and small children, as well as pets. But did you know that today’s large selection of Comfort Companions all started with one special doll?

Daisy, the first Comfort Companion, was dreamed up by our founder, Janet Tompkins, during her years working as a speech pathologist. In her work, she traveled all over the country, from Alaska to California to Maine and various points in between. “I always liked helping people, and working with adults as a speech pathologist afforded me the opportunity to help others while also living and working in many different, beautiful places around our country,” Janet says. “I went into many nursing homes through my work, and I noticed in all of them, no matter where I happened to be, the patients always loved their stuffed animals.”

Janet started to pay attention to the stuffed animals that accompanied her patients. Many times, the stuffed animals weren’t relegated to the bed as a decoration, instead her patients were holding them, sometimes petting them, and using them as a comfort much like a small child holds on to a favorite blanket. “I realized that these stuffed animals were providing comfort for the people in nursing homes, in many ways. For people with agitation, which is often seen in Alzheimer’s patients, the stuffed animal is something to stroke and help hands feel busy. For people who are lonely, hugging the stuffed animals can bring peace.”

Janet saw just how loved these stuffed animals were, but she also saw that the ones her patients had were designed for children. “That’s when I had the idea for a special doll, one made for bigger, adult-size hands and laps,” Janet said. She got to work designing Daisy, and in addition to making Daisy big enough to feel comfortable sitting on a lap, she added a pocket for special mementoes or pictures and infused the doll with the calming scent of lavender.

Janet drew out her design on paper, and her friend, Jetta Browning, sewed up a prototype. Daisy was immediately a favorite with Janet’s patients, and it turned out she was just the beginning of the making of many more — dolls and animals that came to be known as Comfort Companions.