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Childlike Robot Supporting Resident Mental Health at California Skilled Nursing Facility

Analysis  |  By Jasmyne Ray  
   December 02, 2022

The robot is designed to interpret facial expressions, replicate patterns from previous resident interactions, and tailor responses to individual needs.

Riverwalk Post-Acute, a skilled nursing facility, has added a new member to its staff – Robin the robot.

The Riverside, California facility began using the life-sized robot to interact with residents and patients to support their mental health. Robin is HIPAA-compliant, using a combination of science-based therapeutics and AI.

In use, Robin has the personality of a 7-year-old child, allowing residents to feel like they are speaking to their own grandchild. Robin supports residents' mental health and memory care through conversations and playing games, and even alerts staff to potential resident falls. Robin can also be used for remote patient monitoring. In addition, the robotic companion can collect and analyze data on residents' emotional state by interpreting facial expressions, helping it to recognize patterns and create tailored responses to residents.

Robin can be controlled by a medical or assigned staff member, who are also able to communicate with patients and residents via its interface.

"Our patients come from all walks of life, each on their own path to recovery. Robin allows us to provide a companion to someone who may not have any family at all to help improve their stay and recovery while at our facility," Riverwalk Post-Acute administrator Andrew Stephenson said in a statement. "The goal of Robin is to help patients overcome medical stress and anxiety, while decreasing feelings of loneliness and isolation."

There are four other adult healthcare centers in the nation with their own Robin. Psychological research from experts supports its effectiveness.

For example, UCLA Children's Hospital reports that patients and their families experienced a 29% increase in positive affect—"experiencing the world in a positive way, through emotions and interactions with others, and with life’s challenges”—after a visit with Robin, and a 33% decline in negative affect.

"We never want to lose sight of providing the best care possible, while doing it in a safe environment," Stephenson said. "Having as many resources as possible to improve our patients' experience is a top priority for us; and Robin helps make that possible."

“We never want to lose sight of providing the best care possible, while doing it in a safe environment. Having as many resources as possible to improve our patients' experience is a top priority for us; and Robin helps make that possible.”

Photo credit: RiverWalk Post-Acute


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The robot has the personality of a 7-year-old child, which allows residents to feel like they're speaking to a grandchild.

In addition to remote patient monitoring, the robot can have conversations and play games with residents, and alert staff to potential resident falls.


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