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Anthropomorphic Assistive Robot Alleviates Pressure on Adult Social Care

2​7 March 2024

The social care crisis is in full swing. Skills for Care, a leader in social care intelligence commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care, reports a record vacancy rate (10.7%) in adult social care since records began in 2012. In fact, in 2021/22 alone, the number of vacancies across the sector surged by 52% (55,000) — with staff turnover exceeding 37%. Pay and working conditions are the top reasons cited.

In learning disability services, in particular, support workers are increasingly sought. However, conditions remain challenging, with Skills for Care reporting an average of 9.3 sick days per year against a national average of 4.6 days.

Tackling the Social Care Crisis

Service Robotics Ltd is a Bristol-based home robotics pioneer which has received support from leading edge research organisations such as EPIC (eHealth, Productivity, and Innovation in Cornwall). Consequently, since 2018, the company has been carrying out much of its pioneering research in Cornwall. As part of this, it has recently completed a four-week study of its GenieConnect® anthropomorphic assistive technology robot.

This involved four male subjects between the ages of 28 and 52 who were invited to take part in the study. All have learning disabilities and live in a communal home owned by Ordinary Living in Cornwall.

The study aimed to collect data on the feasibility of deploying home robots to support people with learning disabilities regain their independence while also promoting digital inclusion. These individuals often struggle to access basic services like the internet or to remember to perform their daily tasks. Therefore, GenieConnect® was conceived to address their unique requirements.

Blending User-Friendly Voice Technology With Person-Centred Care

Service Robotics, a previous winner of the Health Tech Digital Awards (“Best Use of Robotics in Healthcare”) envisions GenieConnect® as the ideal solution for the anticipated shortfall in quality home care for older and vulnerable adults.

The platform achieves this by promoting cognitive and physical health, and combating isolation through improved social connectivity. It provides a user-friendly interface, text, voice and video capabilities, engaging content, medication reminders, and more; all of which serve to promote communication and friendship between caregivers, recipients, and family members.

“Finding proven methods of delivering some care remotely is game-changing for the care industry. By doing this, we are enabling care workers to do what they tell us they want; to deliver more and better care.” - Rob Parkes, CEO, Service Robotics Ltd

Tackling Challenges in Learning Disabilities

Identified as model subjects, each of the four individuals selected for the study were experiencing very personal challenges in the completion of their daily activities. Each required continuous reminders from a support worker to achieve these, for example:

Peter needed reminders to perform safety checks on his motorbike, to shower after work, to check the temperature of his medicine fridge, and to take his diabetes medication.

Jack needed help keeping up with his personal hygiene, including brushing his teeth. He also suffered from digital exclusion, with limited access to internet services.

Mike needed help keeping up with his medication schedule, such as applying his prescribed eye drops. He also required assistance with his personal hygiene.

Brian needed help in choosing appropriate clothes for work and in completing house chores. He also needed help cleaning his teeth.

Automated Reminders and Enhanced Collaboration

Service Robotics worked collaboratively with staff and the study subjects at Ordinary Living. Personalised reminders and prompts were programmed into Genie robots to support medication management, personal care routines, house chores, and other daily activities. Service Robotics were particularly careful to involve the study subjects in deciding on objectives and setting up automated prompts, including:

  • Hourly application of eye drops.
  • Hydration reminders.
  • Daily cleaning of teeth.
  • Gradual reduction of cigarette breaks (promoting health awareness).
  • Cleaning and tidying up communal spaces (promoting social awareness).
  • Making video calls and listening to music (promoting digital inclusion).

Promoting Independence

Significant improvements in personal care, medication management, and confidence were noted in the subjects over the four-week study. Mike, for example, showed a 50% improvement in his medication routine, remembering to apply his eye drops. Jack, on the other hand, showed a 33% improvement in managing his personal hygiene.

“All these small things have a knock-on effect on their health. Small independence and daily living tasks have a compound effect.” – Lisa Warilow, Registered Manager, Ordinary Living

Promoting social connection and companionship

The study participants enjoyed using Genie’s entertainment features, including Spotify and BBC iPlayer. Added to the mood reminders (which encouraged self-reflection) this improved their sense of emotional well-being. Periodic video calls with loved ones or their approved ‘Genie buddies’ (other Genie users) further enhanced their sense of social connection.

“This has opened up new technologies for them to use in their daily lives which wouldn’t have been possible before.” - Lisa Warilow, Registered Manager, Ordinary Living

Enhancing confidence and promoting independence

The study participants felt empowered to take ownership of their tasks, resulting in a sense of achievement and greater self-sufficiency. They have been communicating better in communal spaces and had fun with Genie prompting them to complete their tasks.

Nonetheless, they also felt compelled to complete these tasks. One of them went as far as dramatically reducing their smoking habit — from smoking 20 cigarettes a day to three a week. The subject was so impressed with the result that they requested to extend their use of Genie. Four weeks after the study, the subject has completely stopped smoking and has not relapsed,

Support workers also felt more empowered. With much of the load of task reminders being taken over by Genie, they were able to use their time more productively with the individuals.

“It gives them more confidence; keeps a routine and structure when we’re not here. It’s something they can do themselves rather than having a person telling them what to do and giving them more independence. They also listen to music; they all have great fun (with Genie). Rather than me prompting them as a human … Sometimes it’s easier if it comes from something else – it takes the pressure off.” - Claire, Support Worker, Ordinary Living

Key Takeaway
With GenieConnect®, health and social care providers are discovering new ways to deliver light touch, remote, residential and domiciliary care solutions that bridge the gap between resources and demand, improving operational and financial performance while delivering high-quality care. To learn more about GenieConnect®, please visit or contact our team on

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