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Robotic pets bringing joy and companionship to residents in Essex

Health / Fri 5th Apr 2024 at 12:54pm

THE therapeutic benefits of robot pets are being explored as part of a pilot project led by Essex County Council’s adult social care team in mid Essex.

For people with dementia or a learning disability, the robotic companion “pets” provide many benefits, including:

  • helping to reduce agitation and anxiety
  • creating a sense of purpose
  • increasing engagement through playing and talking, particularly where caring for a living pet may be difficult

For social care teams, the use of the robotic companions supports good communication, while promoting person-centred practice.

Families and staff have already noticed benefits and seen the positive impact that the robot pets are making.

Essex resident Samantha’s late grandmother Doris formed a strong bond with her robotic cat, Rosie, before she passed away.

Samantha said: “When the robot cat was suggested by the Dementia Intensive Support team, I was hesitant of how grandma would respond. But as soon as she met the cat, she named her Rosie and loved her.

“Rosie took grandma back to the days when she had her own cat. It ignited all of her loving memories of caring for a cat which allowed grandma to remember the feelings of love and contentment.

“Rosie calmed her down during times when she was experiencing sundowning and provided her with a focus.

“For us as a family it filled our hearts to see grandma’s spark come back when she was talking about or to Rosie and we will be forever grateful for the comfort that Rosie gave her.”

Alison Ansell, Director of Adult Social Care for Mid Essex at Essex County Council, said: “The advantages of caring for an animal are well-researched and whilst our robot companion animals are less furry than their real-life counterparts, they bring many of the same benefits to their owners.

“Through this innovative pilot, our teams are looking to aid independence, provide comfort and help those they work with to regain a sense of purpose and joy from their new robot pet.

“Using them to support our statutory interventions is an exciting opportunity and one that will bring real benefits to residents and their families.”

The robotic pet pilot links to the council’s wider care technology offer. Through this, the council is working to increase the uptake of technology where it can have the greatest impact.

Find out more at https://www.essexproviderhub.org/care-technology/care-technology/.

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