Robotics and housing sectors come together to combat loneliness and transform independent living
Bristol-based robotics firm Service Robotics is starting a 12-month initiative with Cornwall Housing to provide 10 support robots, called GenieConnect, designed to combat loneliness and help with routine tasks, supporting residents to continue to live independently at home.
The scheme is designed to support vulnerable and older adults who, with additional help and support, can continue to live independently.
This innovative alternative to care provision is a direct response to industry staff shortages. A recent ADASS survey revealed that there are a staggering 506,131 people are waiting for assessments, reviews, and/or care support to begin, as the social care sector faces dramatic increases in demand.
Part of Cornwall Housing’s isolation prevention strategy, the deal has been agreed following a successful two-month pilot programme that trialled GenieConnect robots between September and November 2021.
The initiative will supplement in-home support visits with robot companions that have been shown to reduce feelings of loneliness as well as provide important reminders to take medication and complete routine tasks. The robots also offer an easy way for their users to connect and communicate with loved ones regularly.
Independent living service manager at Cornwall Housing, Nyree Laugharne, who manages the initiative with Service Robotics, commented: “This is a great initiative for our users who need support to be able to live independently, often on their own.
“The GenieConnect trial showed us that our residents gained so much more than a way of accessing our support teams. As we continue to balance the challenges of staff shortages, whilst combatting loneliness in our residents, we see GenieConnect as a vital component of the care package we can offer to help maintain independent living.”
GenieConnect robots will be used in a range of Cornwall Housing properties helping residents to seek support and assistance with the general activities of daily living through basic voice commands. The robots also act as a personal companion by offering enhanced communications with carers and loved ones, known as the circle of care, a key element in combatting feelings of loneliness.
Commenting on the initiative Rob Parkes, CEO and founder of Service Robotics, said: “Our robots are proving to be more valuable than ever as care staff vacancies continue to rise. Our GenieConnect robots have been designed to offer valuable support for a range of tasks, offering easy access to assistance. They also act as a friendly and supportive companion at a time when loneliness is at epidemic levels.
“The inability to recruit and retain carers is the biggest issue impacting domiciliary care today. This partnership with Cornwall Housing is showing how we can use technology to support people at risk of loneliness to remain at home and feel supported without adding more pressure on carers.”
Service Robotics is also working with the care provider Cornwall Care to provide a GenieConnect to one of its service users Adam, who has learning disabilities.
Adam, who is in his late thirties, has been using GenieConnect to help him remember to take medication and perform daily self-care tasks. He uses the robot as a companion to talk to, and to help him access entertainment media such as tuning in his radio or to access streaming services. He also uses the mood capture feature which checks in with him to ask how he feels, helping to track his mental health status.
Service Robotics is currently running a crowd funding campaign via Crowdcube inviting the public to invest in the future of the company as it expands. The campaign has a target of £175,000 and closes end May.