Local MP, Caroline Dinenage, recently met PARO - a therapeutic robot seal, to learn how technology can be used in an imaginative way in adult social care to support people living with dementia and help tackle social isolation.
PARO was invented by Professor Takanori Shibata from Japan and research has shown that the seal lessens stress and anxiety, promotes social interaction, facilitates emotional expression, and improves mood and speech fluency.
PARO is modelled after a baby harp seal and is covered with soft artificial fur to make people feel comfortable, as if they are touching a real animal. A baby harp seal spends most of the day sleeping, however, PARO has a diurnal rhythm of morning, daytime, and night and has five kinds of sensors: tactile, light, audition, temperature, and posture sensors, with which it can perceive people and its environment.
"This was certainly one of the more unusual meetings I've had! This adorable therapeutic robot in the guise of a baby seal is already making a difference in Denmark where it's widely used in care homes. It's an imaginative way to help enhance the lives of people living with dementia, and combat social isolation and loneliness"