Blog Post: Robots to Limit Social Isolation

11 February 2016

 

At PresCare our passion is limiting social isolation and its effects within the aging community.

Staying socially connected to the community plays an important part in how we age. It’s important for mental and physical health. Social isolation – particularly as people grow older – is a growing concern in the community.

Of particular interest is a recent announcement from researchers at Griffith University, who have taken a strong interest in the effects of using robots for dementia clients.

These researchers are focusing on a new trial that will gather views and expectations of telepresence robots in dementia care from both dementia clients and family members. Known as the ACCEPTANCE Project, the study also involves developing, testing and promoting new approaches to evaluating robots in research and practice.

The team of researchers from the Menzies Health Institute Queensland at Griffith University, led by Professor Wendy Moyle, is undertaking the trial with funding from the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre – Carers and Consumers.

The robots are intended to not only limit social isolation of dementia clients, but also assist with tasks – however, the tasks are part of what needs to be determined.

The telepresence technology involved in these robots enables users to look into another space through a two-way camera while controlling the viewing direction and movement of the robot.  Professor Moyle was quoted as saying, “We are trying to get from end users what they would like the robot to look like and how they would like it to move. We are also looking at people’s perceptions of how close the robot should be.”

Importantly, these devices are not replacing the staff member or family, but rather providing additional comfort when the carer is occupied. Robots can provide stimulation and comfort for a person with dementia who would otherwise have been alone, anxious and bored.

PresCare will be monitoring developments in this field with great interest.