Innovative technologies helping people with dementia

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A CDPC funded project being carried out at Brightwater Care Group and supported by University of Western Australia is examining the use of a socialisation robot to enhance the wellbeing of people living with dementia.

Results recently represented at Alzheimer’s Disease International Conference in Kyoto are encouraging showing that both residents and staff appear to be more engaged when Alice is incorporated into group activities.

The Zorabot, named Alice, has been part of the Brightwater community for over 12 months. Alice is an interactive, humanoid, socialization robot, and is controlled by staff members.

Jennifer Lawrence, CEO of Brightwater, said that from the time Alice first came to life at Brightwater Madeley residents have been captivated by her engaging and charismatic personality and the range of interactive activities Alice supports.

Alice co-facilitates a number of activities, including Bingo, Song and Dance, Reminiscence, Poetry and Exercise groups

“From day one residents have loved engaging with Alice so this research is an important next step in understanding what impact she is having on older adults with cognitive and/or functional decline and how we can make the most of the opportunities she presents,” said Ms Lawrence.

The research specifically investigates the impact incorporating Alice into activities has on older adults with cognitive decline and will also explore staff attitudes to the use of Alice within a residential aged care setting.

“Alice presents some fantastic opportunities to try new activities with residents but is only as good as the therapy team trained to use her, so it is important that we understand how staff feel about adding Alice to their therapy toolkit,” said Ms Lawrence.

Alice has been getting quite a bit of media attention too, with a story of the study featuring on ABC Breakfast TV and an article online.

Poster: “Understanding the Impact of Socialisation Robots on the Social Engagement of Older Adults with Cognitive Decline”