Cleaning robot

Staff would like routine tasks  to be handled by robots (robot above illustrative only).

A Norwegian study has shown that staff in the nursing care sector would welcome sensor and robot technology in the homes of the elderly and in nursing homes.

The study carried out for the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional technologies by SINTEF, the largest independent research group in Scandinavia, revealed that nurses saw the potential for robots to free up their time and help the elderly stay in their homes for longer.

The study was carried out to highlight and address the challenges that the nursing and care sector may face during “the elderly boom” when there will be fewer people of working age and an increasing elderly population.

The study found that despite the participants being sceptical at first about the idea of introducing robots, many of them eventually began to visualise situations in which they could imagine the benefits of using a robot.

It showed that staff regarded cleaning, moving and lifting patients as potential applications for robots.

Project manager, Kristine Holbø from SINTEF Technology and Society, said: “The staff would still prefer to perform tasks that currently require personal contact. However, they would like routine tasks such as dealing with dirty clothes to be handled by a robot.”

Several different categories of nursing staff in Porsanger, Kongsberg and Trondheim were interviewed, including 29 staff members who were interviewed in depth.

As part of the project, SINTEF also carried out a survey of potential and existing technology that could be relevant to the needs mentioned by the interviewees.

However, despite positive results regarding the use of robots to aid those in the nursing and care sector, Holbø warned that politicians should not use the report to implement a huge range of technologies.

“So far, we have only interviewed personnel. The next step will be to talk to all the user groups, map their wishes and needs, and start to test remedies on a small scale. We need to be sure that any devices that we introduce are functional, and have to avoid “pushing” technology onto the users,” she said.