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Seniors need companionship and robots can help

Lee introducing Mindy in living room

“Social Isolation” was a problem for society before COVID19. Now, the severe impact of social isolation on our physical and mental health is apparent everywhere. We know that seniors need more companionship and robots can help. Whether family members live nearby or across the globe, we are simply not allowed to visit due to physical distancing restrictions and other pandemic protocols.

Personal support workers and staff at assisted living facilities are heroically trying to facilitate phone calls to help families communicate. It is great that cell phones, tablets and online apps have become lifelines for families to connect while COVID19 keeps us apart. But, if the senior does not have their own device, a support worker has to interrupt their other responsibilities to initiate or receive the call and sometimes (wearing PPE) are standing right beside the senior to hold the device while the family members talk to each other. This temporary solution is both exhausting and unsustainable.

VIDEO: Robots Can Help

Watch this <2 minute video: https://youtu.be/ktRlazoBBa4

Safe, Hands-Free Operation

As a tech start-up, Social Robots plans to offer regular visits at retirement homes, assisted living and long-term care facilities – using humanoid companion robots to entertain and engage residents. Through small group events and family subscriptions, seniors can experience more companionship and social engagement. Any user authorized by the family can upload content to a private family portal that can be shared during 1:1 visits that will be scheduled and paid for by short-term subscriptions.

The senior does not have to touch the robot or open any apps but they can if they want to. Mindy arrives for a visit and can talk loudly enough to be heard from 2 metres away or more. Visits can take place in a library or common area or the robot can move room to room at the facility. The device can then be wiped clean between visits. The handler uses a separate tablet to have the robot talk and move remotely.

More Satisfying, Memorable Visits

Seniors need more companionship and we know that robots can help. People will talk about their visits with Mindy to friends and care workers. We know this. Everywhere we go, people call her by name and take pictures and videos to show friends. People don’t experience social connection with a tablet or cell phone the same way.

Social Robots was in a pilot test of this service when COVID19 restrictions suspended our visits. On May 10th, we applied to the AGE-WELL National Impact Challenge and we continue to have hope that families will be able to benefit from memorable visits with Mindy soon. Please view our video to see our founder with Mindy in action!

About the Author

Lee St James is the Founder & President of Social Robots Inc., a social connection innovator for the sandwich generation. Follow her on Twitter @leestj.

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