A Gloucestershire home care provider is helping to alleviate isolation and loneliness during the pandemic by offering a robot which acts as a companion.
Caremark Gloucestershire is trialling ‘Genie’, a voice-activated robot designed to offer connectivity and support to older people.
Developed by Bristol-based care technology company Service Robotics, the GenieConnect service provides free video calling, welfare video monitoring with alerts, entertainment and access to online shopping and remote medical support.
During the trial, Genie is being used to allow Caremark customers to speak to and see their friends and family.
Mike Folkes, managing director of Caremark Gloucestershire, said: “Since the first national lockdown in March, even though our carers were still able to support customers in their own homes, it was clear that people were struggling with the isolation.
“Friends and family were not permitted to visit and even though some people were able to do video calls with their loved ones, there were many more who did not have, or understand, the technology.
“We began looking for solutions and GenieConnect seemed perfect because it was created specifically with older people in mind.
“We are the only home care company in Gloucestershire taking part in the trial and we’re already delighted with how successful it has been.”
GenieConnect was the brainchild of Service Robotics founders Rob Parkes and Tim Morgan. They have elderly parents who found themselves living alone after losing their respective partners, so after seeing first-hand how quickly a full and happy life can become lonely, Rob and Tim decided to use their innovation, skills, and experience to create the service.
Whilst initially aimed at older adults, it is now also being used by a range of people experiencing feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Folkes added: “Ultimately, Genie will be able to do so much more and working in partnership with Service Robotics, we’re very excited about the long-term benefits of using this technology.”
Service Robotics CEO and co-founder Rob Parkes said: “One of the commonest fears of older adults is that something will happen, they’ll be incapacitated some-how, and nobody will know. By using Genie’s check-in facility, we can offer peace of mind.”