Robotics is a wide field encompassing ‘smart’ technology already in our homes such as robotic vacuum cleaners and lawn mowers, to standalone autonomous systems that in future will have the potential to keep us safe, help us recover from an operation or stroke, support us to manage long-term conditions, and even assist us to dress ourselves. They can provide physical assistance through a partial exoskeleton, or act as a tool to enable physiotherapy. They can learn to mimic human interactions and encourage us to exercise, cook or simply cheer us up.
With an ageing population, robotics technology that can contribute to people’s care at home will keep more of us active, independent and safe. If the potential applications in health care and for rehabilitation are fully realised, the impact on social care could be enormous.
The introduction of these technologies will have a significant impact on the workforce as we prepare for the different skills needed in future; it will also require professionals and carers to work differently with the individual, to act upon the data that robotics and autonomous systems collect and report. Approaches that prevent ill-health or hospital admissions by spotting changes early could also be transformative. Simply ensuring a person is well hydrated and has taken their medication can have a massive positive impact.
In January 2020 we ran our second Future of Care event on ‘Robotics and autonomous systems’ to expolore the potential possibilites and implications for health and care services. In the resulting report we capture the cutting-edge thinking and discussions from the event and how robotics will influence the future of care.