Are Robots Coming to Aged Care Homes?

on the Thursday, February 4, 2016

PARO the robotic seal is already being used in many residential aged care homes around Australia, but Luvozo is a US-based company that has taken it one step further. 

Luvozo is dedicated to developing and delivering solutions for aged care communities that improve resident satisfaction and overall care.

They have created a robot known as SAM. SAM is an autonomous-human hybrid that costs about a quarter of what a human nurse does and carries out several of the same tasks.

SAM is designed to move around aged care homes and check in with residents to make sure they are okay. It is able to sense for fall hazards such as clutter, spills on the floor or poor lighting. It also offers a link via telephone to a trained off-site care worker. These offsite workers connected to SAM are former nurses who want to remain in the profession. 

When SAM enters the residents’ rooms, he makes small talk and then asks if there’s anything they need.

Luvoso’s CEO and co-founder David Pietrocola says, “Depending on the care plan for each resident, they can set a schedule for when to have SAM come by. They can answer every hour for some residents or every two hours.”

One thing SAM doesn’t do, is handle medical care. It is just meant to be used as an extra set of ears and eyes – not a replacement for a real nurse or carer.

Luvozo ran a pilot test with one machine at an aged care home in Washington D.C last year. Pietrocola said that residents had a “really great” experience with the robot and were soon treating SAM like a real person.

The company aims to have SAM on the market some time in 2017, with new features including the ability for family members to leave video messages using the machine.

Ultimately, robotic technology like SAM could help with the increasing costs of residential aged care and allow older people to remain living in their own homes for longer. But it's important to remember that this technology will never replace the vital connections real-life nurses and care staff have with their residents. 

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