Maycroft Residents Trial Robot Companions For International Study

10 September 2020

maycroft companion robots

Residents at Maycroft Care Home have taken part in an international research trial to test the impact of robot companions.

Homes in both the UK and Japan were asked to work with the wheeled robots called ‘Pepper’, which can hold simple conversations, learn people’s interests and gesture independently.

The study aimed to discover whether interaction with the robots improves mental wellbeing and reduces loneliness.

Residents were asked to chat with ‘Pepper’ and provide feedback on how they felt after spending two weeks with the robot in their lives.

The studies from all the Homes in the trial found a significant boost to mental wellbeing and a small but positive impact on loneliness severity.

Home Manager Lynn Ward said it was fascinating to see the robots at work and to discover the conclusions drawn from the trial.

Lynn said: “There’s no doubt that ‘Pepper’ made an impact on the Residents, and it was great to be a part of this innovative trial.

“The researchers were at great pains to reassure us that these robots aren’t there to replace care workers. Instead, they are a resource to use in the moments when Residents are on their own and would enjoy some companionship.

“We had BBC News here to film ‘Pepper’ chatting to our Resident Peter, and they interviewed him to find out more. Peter said Pepper was good company, even though he admitted chatting to a robot felt a little strange!”

Chairman Dr Sanjeev Kanoria said Advinia are looking at ways to bring in the robots in the future, following the success of the trial.

“This is the only artificial intelligence that can enable an open-ended communication with a robot and a vulnerable resident,” said Dr Kanoria. “Now we are working towards bringing the robot into routine care, so it can be of real help to older adults and their families.”