Robots could one day work alongside human caregivers
Imagine being admitted to a long-term care center, only to find that it was partly run by robots?
It might sound like a fun sci-fi movie, or maybe even a little apocalyptic, but it’s actually a lot closer to the real thing than some might think. You might be wondering if we should be worried about working more closely with robots, and I firmly believe the answer is ‘no’. In fact, it is not something we should be afraid of, but rather a futuristic solution to healthcare that we should embrace with the utmost enthusiasm.
Why is the change taking place now?
The timing of this big change couldn’t be better. Today there are about 46 million members of the 65-and-over club, but by 2050 that number is expected to double, making seniors about 25 percent of the U.S. population. And as society continues to offer and practice better healthcare measures, life expectancy rates are increasing as well as.
While this fact is cause for celebration, the disturbing part is that the number of older people in need far exceeds the number of qualified and available caregivers. One might suggest that the obvious solution would be to hire more hands on the deck, but the question is not that simple.
The role of caregiver comes with some lofty responsibilities and a few hard-to-achieve perks, but the truth is, it’s a very demanding job. To do the job well, and you must because the lives of patients depend on it, it takes total dedication, long hours and intense passion. These are all things that few people can commit to in the long term. That is why burnout is such a glaring problem in the current health climate, which has only been amplified by the pandemic.
Burnout leads to high turnover rates, which then leaves skilled nursing facilities in a state of chaos as they try to take care of their patients and staff at the same time. If the problem is that there aren’t enough caregivers, or your organization only has room in its budget for that much, then why wouldn’t the solution be robot guards?
Should caregivers fear being replaced?
Being laid off due to the massive robot overtaking has created a lot of fear across all industries, but it turns out that there isn’t much of a story there. As mentioned earlier, our current caregivers often find themselves working to exhaustion in order to meet the needs of their patients, so once our senior population doubles, skilled nursing facilities won’t stand a chance. if they choose to reject using artificial intelligence.
Robot keepers are not meant to replace humans; you can never take the human touch away from skilled nursing facilities. Instead, they are meant to support long-term care staff.
When it comes to patient care, there are some areas where robots are unable to help, and providing human interaction is one of them. Robot caretakers can listen and respond to patients, but residents wouldn’t view them as true companions. In fact, most residents of SNF demand more of their robot keepers because they don’t mind putting extra stress on them.
Robot caretakers can help with the majority of heavy loads around the facility so that caregivers can spend more time doing what they want to do: meet the critical medical and emotional needs of their patients.
Can seniors really rely on bots to meet their needs?
Today’s seniors may need a period of adaptation to get used to interacting with more advanced technologies, but those who reach 65 and over in the coming decades will be no strangers to the automation and artificial intelligence.
Although we live in an age where smart devices have literally changed our reality, skeptics still aren’t sure whether or not robots are equipped to mimic the attention to detail that a human caregiver can. The short answer is ‘yes’, and here’s how.
These robots have been programmed to handle routine tasks caregivers are typically responsible for checking vital signs, administering medication, assisting with feeding, and alerting healthcare professionals in an emergency. They can even offer contactless Covid-19 screening to the sick. But the biggest advantage of a robot keeper is handling the most physically demanding parts of the job.
These robot guards can help patients wash and use the bathroom, easily lifting their bodies from their beds or wheelchairs. They can help patients get dressed and even prepare residents’ beds after each use. When a robot is at work, patients don’t have to feel embarrassed when they need to be cleaned after using the bathroom or when they mess up while eating. And with artificial intelligence, seniors are cared for 24 hours a day. These robots can even pick up physical clues this can indicate distress or discomfort, reducing the number of cases where professionals are unable to reach their patients at critical times.
Over time, robot keepers will be able to handle even more complex tasks, like administering injections or preparing full-fledged meals. Healthcare executives are excited to bring artificial intelligence to their facilities to help support their patients and staff, but one thing is certain: robots can never replace human compassion. Caregivers should expect robots to be able to help them knowing that they still play the most important role of all: providing the personal, human touch that cannot be replicated by technology.