Peter Robson is able to talk to his frail father David and also follow him around his retirement village apartment - even though he’s not in the same room.
David is able to do this because he is using a moveable robot placed in his father’s apartment as part of a ground-breaking new technology trial which could change the face of retirement living and age care.
David, 77, suffers from Parkinson’s disease and lives in IRT Links Seaside Wollongong, located south of Sydney.
Since August 2020, family and carers have been watching David using a robot loaned to IRT by Canberra-based Robots 4 Good. The robot was originally designed to connect chronically-ill children to classrooms.
It’s part of a trial sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic to test how technology could help overcome social-isolation and uninterrupted access to care for home care customers during lockdown.
Nicknamed Bluey by the Robsons, the robot is a wheeled device that family and carers can remotely control to move around the home.
It has a wide-angle camera on a screen with a tilting neck to ensure a wider field of view than you would have using a handheld device or computer. The robot also doesn’t require David to hold or press anything and auto-docks onto a charging station after calls.
David nominated his son to be able to securely access the robot remotely in order to spend time with him and check on his welfare.
“Dad has been really stoked to have the robot. We’ve had a lot of fun with it. It follows him around his home and out onto the balcony where I can see the view that Dad is seeing. It’s like having a window that looks right into Dad’s world,” Peter said.
"You can make sure he hasn't fallen down or injured himself or that he's feeling good himself.”
IRT Group Executive General Manager of Home Care Ross Gallagher says the pandemic has forced the organisation to consider new ways of doing things, especially when it comes to helping residents stay connected when they’re required to stay physically distant.
“If you want to see what the future of ageing in place looks like, telepresence robots could well be part of it,” Ross said.
“The robot has applications from a social connectivity perspective and a caring perspective. We’re really excited about it.”
The robot can also be used to conduct care plan and budget reviews remotely, daily wellness checks to detect falls and could even be used in the future to monitor vitals and wound care.
- From sleeping aids to driverless cars: the amazing new gadgets in over 50s property
- Search for aged care and home care services across Australia
WATCH DOWNSIZING.COM.AU'S VIDEO OF BLUEY THE ROBOT