We all know that technology has come leaps and bounds over the last few decades. It was 10 years ago, that Apple first released their iPhone to the public. Now pretty much every second person has one. The same with computers – not long ago was it an unaffordable luxury for many, now some schools require their students to have them in class.
Assistive technology has also come along way, so much so that there are health bots and companion bots well established in many dementia care units throughout New Zealand.
Those who have read any of Isaac Asimov’s books or have watch any movie that robots take over might be feeling a little apprehensive about this shift towards the more generalised use of robots in this sector. But ready or not – robots are set to be an ever increasing part of our world.
It is unlikely that robots will overtake all aspects of aged care. Caring for the elderly requires a large set of skills that robots will not be able to replicate. However, with worker shortages as a result of the aging population, robots and assistive technologies can help reduce carer workloads and the expense of care provision in the longer term.
Technology will be able to take care of many of the more routine aspects of care staff’s work to let them focus on the services that add more value to the residents.
This technology won’t be solely found in aged care facilities, no doubt we will see a trickle down effect into households. Assistive technology will become more affordable as new innovations are made in the sector, therefore more people will be able to buy them. Many retailers have seen this subtle shift, more and more are they finding that they are selling products usually sold only to aged care facilities to individuals who are looking after their loved one at home. This has been the result of the Healthy Aging Strategy and the Ministry of Health and the DHB pushing people to stay independent and in their own homes for longer.
Who knows what the aged care industry will look like in 10 years time, but I am sure there will be a larger robotic presence around the place.