Meet the”giraff robot”. A new mechanised robot that aims to help people with dementia to continue to live independently in their own homes.
NHS Western Isles, as part of European Union project, called ‘Remodem’ – aims to investigate ways to support people with dementia living in remote rural communities. They have embraced the opportunity to pilot the ‘Giraff Robot’ for the first time in Scotland. The Giraff presents a unique way of helping people living with dementia stay in contact with their friends and family, particularly in remote and rural areas.
“Giraff” is a mobile robot with an inbuilt camera. It can be used to set up a vital communication link between people with dementia and their loved ones and potentially support people to remain in their own homes.
The Giraff robot can help combat loneliness
NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson explained: “This is an interesting idea and we are very much testing new ground here. It is well recognised that care of the elderly in general and the care of people with dementia in particular is one of the major challenges facing most countries in Europe today.
By 2035, the Western Isles is projected to have the highest percentage of pensioners in Scotland, at 35 per cent of the total population. With an older population comes both benefits to society and challenges in terms of health care, including an expectation that there will be a corresponding rise in the number of people with dementia. For some with dementia, it can at times be a lonely life, particularly if their relatives are unable to visit them regularly.”
The Giraff robot is designed to be kept inside the home of a person with dementia, but controlled remotely by their relatives or carers.
How the Giraff Robot works
NHS Western Isles Head of Planning Emelin Collier said: “The Giraff is simple to use; it is kept in the home of the person with dementia and the controls for the robot are with the person’s relative or carer. The relative could call into the giraff robot to effectively waken it up, and the person with dementia would not have to do anything at all.
The caller’s face would appear on the screen, and the caller could then navigate the robot through the home of the person with dementia to check that all is well, check medication has been taken, food has been eaten, the person has washed and dressed or just to provide reassurance or have a chat.”
Studies in Australia have so far proved that dementia suffers don’t feel intimidated or frightened but intrigued by the robot and sufferers have responded positively to its presence in their home.
Gordon Jamieson added: “We are absolutely delighted to have the Giraff robot here with us to trial and we have high hopes for how it may improve the quality of life for some dementia patients. As a new technology for us, the robot could also potentially be used in many other areas of health care to improve quality of care, live access to specialists, and speed up consultations, regardless of location.
“Having seen the Giraff in action, I am extremely impressed with how easily it can be moved around by the ‘controller’ so that you can clearly see the environment of the patient, and can have a conversation and meaningful interaction, regardless of distance.”
What do you think of having robots to help people with dementia?
– What do think? Is this great use of technology? Is this something that you would consider if you had a loved one that suffers from dementia? Would you want to rely on a robot to watch over somebody with the disease? Let us know your thoughts below.