A ground-breaking trial of robots in care homes has found evidence of a significant improvement in the mental health of elderly care home residents.
The largest ever global study on the use of culturally competent robots in caring for the elderly was carried out by the University of Bedfordshire, Middlesex University and Advinia Healthcare, in partnership with the University of Genoa.
Lead author of the evaluation, Dr Chris Papadopoulos from the University of Bedfordshire, said: “This study is ground-breaking because it is the largest ever investigation into the use of autonomous social robots for older adults in care settings. The results show that using the CARESSES artificial intelligence in robots such as Pepper has real potential benefit to a world that is witnessing more people living longer with fewer people to look after them. Poor mental health and loneliness are significant health concerns and we have demonstrated that robots can help alleviate these.”
Key results of the study found that older adults in care homes who used the culturally competent robot (up to 18 hours across two weeks) saw a significant improvement in their mental health.
The trial also demonstrated a “small but positive impact” in the reduction of loneliness amongst residents and claimed a “significant positive impact” on participants’ attitudes towards robots.
Dr Sanjeev Kanoria, surgeon, founder and chairman of trial participant, Advinia Health Care – one of the largest providers of dementia care in the UK, said: “Advinia is an important industrial collaborator in the project to prove the benefit of bench to bedside clinical research. Robots were tested and improvements in functionality made following trials at Advinia care homes.
“This is the only Artificial Intelligence that can enable an open ended communication with a robot and a vulnerable resident. We are working towards implementing this into routine care of vulnerable people to reduce anxiety and loneliness and provide continuity of care.
“The robot was tested in Advinia’s care homes in the UK. Now we are working towards bringing the robot into routine care, so it can be of real help to older adults and their families.”