Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

NHS Western Isles pilots robots to help people with dementia

Giraff robot

Giraff robot

I was intrigued when I saw that NHS Western Isles was starting a pilot scheme which will see robots being installed in the homes of those suffering from dementia.

The robots are not autonomous (they don’t do anything on their own) but are guided by operators, who can be relatives, carers, helpers, or medical staff, so are more like drones as they are being controlled remotely, while robots perform automatic movements. Known as Giraff, the devices are like mobile phones on motorised bases, and can driven around the patients’ home, to check they are ok, that they are taking medication and eating, and to converse with them.

Giraff allows any family member, friend or professional caregiver with a laptop and web camera to virtually visit a home, move about and freely interact with the residents there (talk and listen, see and be seen) almost as if they were physically present.

The scheme is part of Project – REMODEM

This is transnational and involves partners in Scotland, Sweden, Norway, Faroe Islands, and Greenland. All the ember  countries have remote areas where people frequently have more difficulties accessing specialist health and care services than those living in towns and cities.

While the idea is good (and I can say that after having had to deal with dementia), the project seems to be moving very slowly. It looks as if it started back in 2008, Sweden was studying the robots in the homes of the elderly in 2011, and the Western Isles only gets in the news with their use in 2013.

That said, anything that helps is worth working on, especially if it can help someone with dementia have an improved level of safety without having to go into care, or have relatives give up their lives to become full-time carers.  And next to impossible if they have little or no family.

As can be seen from the pic, the Giraff looks a bit odd, so it was interesting to see that part of the study looked at how the device was seen by the users, and that trials in Australia had shown that those with dementia had not been alarmed by its appearance. I guess that might be different if they forger about it – but by the time things have reached that stage of the illness, it’s unlikely they would be able to live  alone.

Via Robots to help people with dementia in Western Isles



July 6, 2013 - Posted by | Civilian | , , , ,

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