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Could Pepper the robot help alleviate the pressure on care workers?

20th July 2018


Could the answer to the social care crisis be a four-foot tall ‘humanoid’ called Pepper?

Corporate giant SoftBank Robotics is hoping the highly advanced robot could alleviate the pressures on care workers by administering medication, offering companionship, assisting with the mobility of patients who use stair lifts and even monitoring patient wellbeing.

The €2.5m research project is being funded by both the EU and the Japanese government, with hopes the robot will be developed within three years.

“It is not a question of replacing human support but enhancing and complementing existing care,” says Professor Irena Papadopoulos. "In the UK alone, 15,000 people are over 100-years of age and this figure will only increase.

"Assistive, intelligent robots for older people could relieve pressures in hospitals and care homes as well as improving care delivery at home and promoting independent living for the elderly.”

Dr Chris Papadopoulos, principle lecturer of public health from the University of Bedfordshire, is hoping the robot will be well received by patients due to efforts in making Pepper more ‘culturally-aware’. “In order for robots to be more acceptable to older people it is essential that they can be programmed to adapt to diverse backgrounds and this is where my expertise in transcultural nursing comes in. Care robots that are culturally-aware are likely to meet with greater acceptance from both the older people and their carers.”

Pepper will be able to communicate through speech and gestures, and each robot will have a small screen attached to its upper body for both maintenance and interactive purposes. They will also be hugely advanced socially, as they will be able to read emotions and even recognise if a patient is in pain or has become unwell.

Currently, Japan has already adopted robots in a number of hospitals to help with lifting patients and serving food. In the UK, the company is hoping to trial Pepper in Advina Healthcare care homes during the final year of the project.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only and are up to date as of the time of publishing