NHS Western Isles, in Scotland, is to become the UK’s first health board to try out Giraff,
a scheme which places robots in the homes of people with dementia. But the pilot project is just one of a number of uses the Scots have recently found for robotics.
The Giraff project uses 1.5m (4ft 11in) tall, wheeled robots which have a TV screen instead of a head. A relative or carer calls up the machine using a computer. Their face appears on the screen and they can also drive the robot around the house to check that, for example, medication is being taken or that food is being eaten.
The pilot study is part of the European Union project Remodem
, which aims to investigate ways to support people with dementia living in remote communities.
However this is just one of the ways robotics is being used to revolutionise healthcare in Scotland.
Three years ago, the new £300m Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, Stirlingshire, became the first in the UK to use robots to carry out day-to-day tasks: carrying clinical waste, delivering food, cleaning the operating theatre and dispensing drugs. The machines have their own dedicated network of corridors underneath the hospital
The hospital is also home to a family of robot simulators used by trainee doctors and nurses to practice procedures. They consist of Stan, who can respond to anaesthetic gases and Reg, who has a heartbeat, can give blood and describe his symptoms.There is also a robotic baby, two children and a pregnant woman robot.