Robots, in any field, elicit a level of curiosity and excitement that most technologies fail to provoke, and in the care sector it is no different. Increasingly there are individuals and organisations with the vision and drive to break new ground, and as this excitement builds it is salient to learn from other industries so that the appetite translates into progress.
Robots are exciting and shiny, and shiny things have a habit of distracting from the real issues. Before getting started, you need to be clear on the problem that you are looking to solve, then identify and develop a solution to address this problem. Succeeding in “having a robot” whilst impressive, will ultimately have less impact than demonstrating improved outcomes for individuals, carers, care workers and organisations – and it is the latter that will entice future investment in robotics for the sector.
Believe the hype
Acceptance, or even better desire, from users is fundamental to the successful adoption of technology. Key to this is the language we use. As a nation, we’ve embraced smart speakers, the digital assistant, into our homes and need to unlock the same acceptance levels for similar technology in the care sector.
Saying “robots in care” can conjure up negative images which presents an uphill struggle for user acceptance. But talking to people about a device that can help them transfer a loved one into bed without risking straining their back has the opposite effect - people are almost begging for solutions that will help them: “I needed that on Tuesday when Mum fell, where can I get it from?”.
Get the fundamentals right and only then get started
Inventing a robot from scratch is beyond the appetite and – quite understandably – the ability of most care providers. But laying the groundwork for success in robotics is within the sector’s reach and is fundamental to delivering real benefits. For example:
The care sector is starting to dip its toe into the world of robotics. There are clear needs that robots could help address, and there are individuals in the sector with the enthusiasm to drive progress. Early efforts must be successful to attract further funding, and success will come from getting the fundamentals right, but there’s no point denying that the quest for something shiny is a helpful motivation.