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Mar 20, 2012

Positive feedback for service robots in nursing

Authors: Cieslik, S., Klein, P. (2012)

Nursing staff as well as residents have a positive attitude towards the use of service robots in nursing homes. The prerequisite for such an affirmative view is a development process which focuses on the users and their requirements. These are the findings of a current UID study evaluating the potential reductions of the workload of nursing staff and the acceptance of service robots.

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Reducing workload

Carers see great relief potential in service robots. From distributing beverages to collecting laundry or supporting the night shift – it is especially these time-consuming and exhausting errands that professional staff could imagine delegating to robots, as a pilot test in the Parkheim Berg nursing home in Stuttgart revealed. The test was conducted by UID and their partners of the WiMi-Care research project. UID presents the findings of the pilot test and the WiMi-Care research project along with results from a quantitative survey at the nursing home in the study "Service Robots in Nursing".

Saving time

The driverless transport system Casero mainly provides relief for aides such as caretakers or kitchen staff, as the quantitative survey conducted by UID at the Parkheim Berg nursing home revealed. In this study, UID's experts accompanied staff members during frequent errands, such as distributing food trolleys, and measured the time they needed. The result: Casero could save 26 hours per week and unit at Parkheim Berg alone.

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Carers, too, benefit from its use: "Casero could transport heavy loads, providing physical relief to carers. This will gain even more significance in the future. The number of carers aged 50+ is on the increase, as statistics show," says Dr. Peter Klein, UID's Head of Research, who was in charge of the project for UID.

User-centered approach

The project team's user-centered approach had a positive impact on the way the service robots were perceived. The carers were involved in the development of the two service robots right from the start. Their requests and requirements formed the basis for the usage scenarios and the ongoing development of the service robots. The project team made a point of discussing and testing important development steps with them.

Increasing acceptance

"The nursing staff really appreciated the continuous involvement and the transparent approach during the project. For example, it was especially important to them that the robots would not enter the residents' rooms and be involved in direct nursing tasks. It goes without saying that we respected these requests during the development," says Silvana Cieslik, a project member and usability engineer with UID.

Project overview

The project aimed at developing service robots that are ideally suited for meeting the needs of and facilitating everyday life for carers and residents. Together with four partners, UID developed, implemented and tested usage scenarios for the service robots Casero and Care-O-bot. These partners were: Duisburg-Essen University, Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA, MLR System GmbH – a supplier of material flow and logistics systems – and Parkheim Berg in Stuttgart.

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