Kirsty Marrs |29, April, 2022
You may remember that the University of Plymouth’s Hannah Bradwell was featured on BBC Spotlight news, talking about companion animal robots but this wouldn’t have been possible if EPIC hadn’t met Eventide. The relationship between Eventide and EPIC has not only contributed to ongoing research at the University, but has provided a test bed for one of our funded start-ups Robotriks and has had an impact on the staff and residents at the home too.
Eventide are an Outstanding Care Home, in Liskeard who have always expressed an interest in innovation but were cautious about the role of technology and its bearing on high quality care.
We met Eventide early on in the project in 2017, and they have since contributed to a number of events and we have even visited them at the care home!
By learning more about the technology that already exists and the potential developments that could happen in future, it appears to have turned the scepticism into excitement of how the high level of care that was already being offered could be complemented with technology; not to replace interactions with current staff, but to enrich them and build on the patient centred environment that is so important to the team. Kirstie said “I was very sceptical at first with the introduction of robotics into the home, thinking it would be rebuffed by the residents and interaction from the staff would be greatly reduced, this was not the case and during the studies and interaction pilots that were conducted both the staff and residents gained great enjoyment. The residents especially enjoyed the animals and the sense of calm and adoration encompassed them all.”
When asked about the impact that the e-pets had on the staff Kirstie revealed “The staff were amazed at what the animals could do especially the cat who responded to touch and bonded the staff more so with the residents and it became a big talking point for residents and their past love for their own pets.”
We pressed more into the interaction with the University of Plymouth, and Kirstie said “I am greatly happy with the background research Hannah has put into the infection control issues that were highlighted in the beginning but this has now been overcome and a comprehensive report has been conducted.”
Not only have the residents interacted with companion robotic pets, and had their input in the design of new technology, the management team have really showed an enthusiasm towards eHealth and have truly embraced how technology can be used to support carers in future. Advising other homes about companion robots Kirstie said they are “A highly recommended activity or feature within your home to enhance wellbeing and belonging”.
By working with EPIC, they are open to and actively looking for further technology enhancements to introduce to their residents, and working with staff to incorporate to their views on how they would use technology to support care delivery.