Although some older Galicians have not used a mobile phone in their life nor do they know how to navigate the internet, in a short time they will be precipitated into the future, since they can be served by robots They will help them get up or go to bed, remind them when to take their medicine, and keep them company by playing music or reading a book. And it is not science fiction. The Xunta de Galicia plans to carry out a pilot test in a center for the elderly next year where they will test the use of a robot to help care for residents.
It is one of the measures included in the technological package with which the Department of Social Policy wants to support nursing homes. In an increasingly aging society like that of Galicia, where rurality and dispersion are a handicap To develop equitable and accessible public services, the use of technology can serve to respond to the needs of the elderly population “in a simpler way and at an affordable cost,” according to the Xunta.
One of the solutions proposed by the Department of Social Policy is the use of androids. “We are in the development phase. Analyzing what is in the market. In a second phase we will go to what we call Living Lab in real life, that is, do a test to see what are the needs and benefits of that technology ”, explains Alfredo Silva Tojo, head of the Planning, Care Innovation and Information Management Service, which belongs to the General Directorate of Comprehensive Sociosanitary Care of the Ministry of Social Policy.
Japan or China have been pioneers in the use of robots in nursing homes to help care for the elderly, but this technology has already reached Spain. In Barcelona they have already successfully tested the use of these androids to accompany seniors who live alone. Misty, who is the name of the humanoid, talks to the old man, asks him about his plans and his medication, does memory exercises …
In Castilla y León, a residence for the elderly in Soria was the first to have a robot. Copito will help users and professionals to perform daily tasks, such as getting up or going to bed. This android will be able to receive the advanced telecare data in its system and, thus, for example, remember when to take a medication or a doctor’s appointment. And finally, you can interact with the user, through reading, music or any other form of entertainment and, of course, put them in contact with family or friends.
The Xunta wants to transfer this model to Galician residences from 2022. But it also plans to implement robotics in the distribution of medicines in centers for the elderly. The idea is that the process of using drugs in nursing homes is fully computerized to avoid errors with medication, give more security to the elderly and manage alerts, for example, in case a user forgets to take a drug.
These measures will be complemented by others such as the use of motion sensors in the center that give alerts in case the elderly person leaves the residence or wanders through the corridors at night. Geolocation devices will also be used and devices will be implanted in the residents’ rooms that allow a monitoring of access to the bathroom at night to detect any anomaly, identification of possible falls or leaving the room outside the established hours.
The residence of A Estrada has been the first to incorporate these technologies and next year they will be extended to the rest of the centers.
From Social Policy they warn that the sensors do not interfere with the privacy of people since they do not record video, audio or voice. In addition, the television in each of the residents’ rooms will become a smart device from which they can communicate by videoconference with their families or access a platform where they can schedule therapies, videos of family members or YouTube, classical music …
Despite the lack of habit of the elderly in the use of new technologies, the head of the Healthcare Innovation Service explains that now on the market there are technological solutions that greatly facilitate their use and also warns that the tools will be adapted to each user . “If an elderly person is not able to use them, the professionals at the residence will help them,” he explains.
The pandemic revealed the vulnerability of the elderly admitted to nursing homes and has forced a rethinking of the nursing home model. In a system where most of the places are also arranged with private entities, the Xunta wants to maintain a tighter control over the quality of care that is offered in these nursing homes. For this reason, the Department of Social Policy will implement a table of indicators that will be used to evaluate the activity of social health residences and monitor the fulfillment of objectives.
The head of the Planning, Healthcare Innovation and Information Management Service, Alfredo Silva Tojo, explains that indicators related to residents’ comfort and safety will be measured. For example, there will be a record of falls or the number of “decompensations” suffered by residents in terms of their health will be measured.
“This will allow weekly or semi-annual evaluations, depending on the case, and see what can be improved”
This system of indicators will also serve to “homogenize” the quality standards of all residences financed with public funds and in that case opt for obtaining the corresponding title from the accrediting bodies that work on the measurement of service standards. public.
The Department of Social Policy has also launched a computerized census with all users of the centers for the elderly that will allow know the ups and downs in real time that are in the residences or the possible transfers of the elderly from one center to another. Until now, each nursing home had a list of its residents, but the notification of any change arrived late to the Xunta. This regional census will prevent the recurrence of cases such as the one that occurred in a pandemic when there was an error in the identification of an elderly woman who died in a residence and her death was notified to the family of another resident, who had moved to another center.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.