Care by means of information and communication technology
‘Telecare’ is a concept that is widely accepted in care. In the currently existing concepts care is given by means of information and communication technology. Sensors, placed in the home environment, give information regarding the behavior of the elderly in order to offer help when needed and in order to give feedback and reminders to clients when something is wrong. For instance when the client forgets to take his medicine a signal is given to the health care organization. It is also possible to have daily contact with elderly, both initiated by the client as well as initiated by nurse at a care center by means of audio-video communication. This offers extra safety and security for the clients and has a social function. Home care organizations use this concept to monitor elderly and guide them with daily life activities.
However with curently implemted Telecare it is not possible to act in the environment of the client. If for instance the walking cane has fallen and the client cannot pick it up himself, then the client has to wait until the next visit of the home-care employee.
Robots & telecare
A mobile robot with arms makes it possible to act in the environment of the client. Home-care with robots is therefore a logical extension to the already implememted and accepted forms of care from a distance. At the moment technology has not progressed far enough to implement a safe, reliabele, voice controlled and autonomous robot as seen in science fiction movies. For the moment it is neccesary that a home care employee observes the robot and if needed can control the robot himself (from a central home-care organization). The robot can be used vor audio/video communication with the client, but can also perform tasks on request of the client such as fetching objects and perform care tasks like preparing a breakfast.
The target audience for a tele-operated care robot is:
elderly with severe, age related problems;
chronically ill; and
people with physical limitations.
The operator at the central home-care organization can control mutliple robots at a time at multiple client homes.
In the beginning the number of tasks the robot can perform are limited. Therefore it is neccesary that nurses that still visit the clients are part of the process. They have to assist clients with the use of the robot, charging the robot, make preparations for the robot to perform its tasks. For instance the robot in the beginning may be able to open a cap from a bottle only after it has been opened once before.
Care from a Distance with Robotics
Besides being controlled by an operator in certain cases it is possible for the client to control the robot himself (for instance from his wheel chair) for instance with a tablet. In this case the central care organization can observe what is happening.
Care from a distance offers clients:
chronically ill; and
more social contact (not only with care employees but also with their family who can operate the robot as well);
more independance; and
Technological innovation in care and robotics in care are an increasing necessaty because of the increasing care cost and increasing lack of personel to take care clients. We have caculated that 24 hour care by a robot plus two hours of physical home-care per day for a client is less expansive than a nursing home.
For the moment Rose BV will use robot Rose for the further development of Care from a Distance with Robotics. In the future also different robots can be used.