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Robot nurses could revolutionise elderly care

Robotic technology has been used in manufacturing, the automobile industry, and for other automated tasks. There have even been recent innovations in building driverless, robotic cars. In recent developments, the NHS has been trialling the use of robots to enhance patient care for pensioners needing companionship.

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Robot nurses could revolutionise elderly care

Robotic technology has been used in manufacturing, the automobile industry, and for other automated tasks. There have even been recent innovations in building driverless, robotic cars. In recent developments, the NHS has been trialling the use of robots to enhance patient care for pensioners needing companionship.

There seems to be talk of robots everywhere. Robotic technology has been used in manufacturing, the automobile industry, and for other automated tasks. There have even been recent innovations in building driverless, robotic cars. In recent developments, the NHS has been trialling the use of robots to enhance patient care for pensioners needing companionship.

The government’s Robots and Autonomous Systems initiative was launched to help position the country at the forefront of a global push for more research and development in the sector. Now the group is advocating the use of robot nurses to help facilitate long-term, around-the-clock care of some elderly people.

As reported in The Scotsman, the robot nurses may be used to provide assistance to pensioners needing extra support. Robots are being trialled more and more in UK hospitals and clinics. Many of them are offered as companions or resources for eating better or as fitness advisors.

Built at Salford University in Manchester, the Carebot P37 S65 provides 24-hour administrative care for dementia patients. There is even a robotic seal built in Japan that has been used at the Queen's Hospital in Burton. The seal is used to help elderly dementia patients relax and find comfort. 'Bobby' is a £5,000 interactive animatronic seal with built-in sensors and microphones. It reacts to sound and touch through baby seal-like movements and noises.

With an aging population in the UK, government officials are hopeful new technology can help modernise an already expensive elderly care system in the country. Through driverless cars, affordable stairlift technology, and automatic 24-hour assistance, better technology produced in the UK may be the solution.

The mission, says Jackie Marshall-Balloch, a government innovation specialist, is “to demonstrate that through innovations in technology … dependent lifestyles can become an engine for economic growth, leading to a reduction in the financial burden on state”.

Although there are benefits and advantages to using robots and automatic systems for aiding in care, elderly support advocates are cautious in calling them a total solution.

“There is nothing wrong with making smarter use of technology to help people manage health conditions and possibly stay independent for longer,” the director of the charity Age UK, Caroline Abrahams, told the paper. “However, it is always important to ensure technology is only used where it delivers real benefits and to recognise that it is no substitute for the human touch.”

Image Credit: University of Salford Press (flickr.com)

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