PARO the seal is designed to be a social robot for older people and we have evaluated PARO in a dementia ward.
Originally created in Japan by Takanori Shibata in 2004 for the Japanese tech company AIST, PARO robot seals are designed to help a variety of vulnerable patients from elderly dementia patients to young adults and children with severe developmental conditions. Though people in Japan have actually bought them to keep as pets, they are of much greater interest in the UK as a therapeutic tool in care homes.
We conducted a small service evaluation of the use of PARO in partnership with Sheffield Health and Social Care. The evaluation was conducted at the Grenoside Grange Dementia ward with a 10 dementia patients (5 male and 5 female). Overall we found that PARO was positive for the patients. We observed some increased communication and interaction. Some negative experiences were observed too (for example one patient confused PARO with her old pet dog). A larger study is required to quantify the benefits.