Connecting the person with dementia and family: a feasibility study of a telepresence robot
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Background: Maintenance of communication is important for people with dementia living in long-term care. The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility of using “Giraff”, a telepresence robot to enhance engagement between family and a person with dementia living in long-term care. Methods: A mixed-methods approach involving semi-structured interviews, call records and video observational data was used. Five people with dementia and their family member participated in a discussion via the Giraff robot for a minimum of six times over a six-week period. A feasibility framework was used to assess feasibility and included video analysis of emotional response and engagement. Results: Twenty-six calls with an average duration of 23 mins took place. Residents showed a general state of positive emotions across the calls with a high level of engagement and a minimal level of negative emotions. Participants enjoyed the experience and families reported that the Giraff robot offered the opportunity to reduce social isolation. A number of software and hardware challenges were encountered. Conclusions: Participants perceived this novel approach to engage families and people with dementia as a feasible option. Participants were observed and also reported to enjoy the experience. The technical challenges identified have been improved in a newer version of the robot. Future research should include a feasibility trial of longer duration, with a larger sample and a cost analysis.
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