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Technology and health care for the elderly medical research studies

Focus on strategic priorities that have significant social impact.

CAT 2013-08

User Studies with Intelligent Assistive Robots and Elder Residents Living in Long-Term Care Homes

The objective of this one-year project was to conduct on-site user experiments with an intelligent socially assistive robot that is capable of assisting elders in multiple socially and cognitively stimulating activities, both one-on-one and in a group setting.

Research Results

Findings: A novel system architecture for Tangy the robot was developed. Results showed that Tangy was able to effectively sense its environment and the users around it, while appropriately determining its assistive behaviours. LTC residents were comfortable and enjoyed interacting with Tangy and would interact with it again in the future.

Impact of findings: There is an urgent need to promote serious initiatives to nurture healthcare robotics research and their subsequent commercialization to improve the quality of life of one of our most vulnerable populations. Conducting user studies of the integration of our novel robot technology in an eldercare facility as part of a resident’s circle-of-care will spur the technology to engage, stimulate, empower and support elders, family members and caregivers with the aim of improving the quality of life of one of our most vulnerable populations. Our research addresses the mission of the Canadian Frailty Network by developing and implementing a novel and needed assistive robotic technology to provide social and cognitive interventions to the elderly in LTC facilities in order to improve their quality of life and health outcomes.

Publications, presentations and webinars

About the Project

Industrialized countries are facing a crisis in eldercare. As the world’s elderly population continues to grow, so does the number of individuals that require personalized care. While much of the elderly population suffers from the effects of social isolation and age-related cognitive decline (including dementia), there is a severe shortage in the labour force that can provide social and cognitive interventions that are known to have positive health effects (e.g., reducing the risk of dementia).

We conducted extensive studies in a long-term care facility with an autonomous assistive robot and elderly residents to investigate engagement, compliance, acceptance and performance of the robot for both video chats with family members/friends and a multi-person game of Bingo.

For more details on the project rationale, objectives and research plan, click here.

Project Team

Principal Investigator:

Goldie Nejat, PhD, PEng -- University of Toronto

Co-Investigator:

Christopher Beck, PhD, MSc, BSc -- University of Toronto

Project Contact: Goldie Nejat -- nejat@mie.utoronto.ca

CAT 2013-08

Key words: long-term care; assistive robots; human-robot interaction; cognitive and social stimulation; autonomous planning and scheduling