Hospice-Robots

Hospice Robots?

Evolving Hospice Care.

I saw the headline, “Last Moment Robot: ‘End of life Detected‘” and likely had the same reaction you did to the title of this blog. What? A robot? For hospice? If you’ve worked in this industry for any period of time, or experienced hospice through care provided to a loved one,  you might think like me that this is an oxymoron.   A robot that’s capable of offering comfort as a person is dying? No way.

According to the CNet article, Dan Chen has attempted just that. “Chen, an artist, designer, and engineer who just graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with an MFA in Digital + Media, built the machine as one of a series of functional robots capable of reenacting human social behaviors.”

Chen admits that the device is meant to raise questions. Particularly about one of life’s most vulnerable moments…the imminent end.

While I don’t think that we are ready for a robot to comfort individuals at end of life, I can see this raising a lot of questions, and perhaps more importantly drawing on emotions.  With ever changing family dynamics the possibility that someone may be all alone in the world exists.  And if that person is dying and doesn’t have any loved ones to comfort them, might they find comfort with a robot?  “Someone” who knows what they’re going through and, quite possibly, offers the most appropriate words of support that can be given?

I know for sure I’m not ready for a robot to rub my arm or give me hugs… but then again I never thought I’d pay for radio. Do you think there’s value in some form of robotic help for hospice patients?  How do we, as a community – not just an industry – help ensure those that are alone, have someone to guide them through their final stages of life?

Please share your thoughts here, on Facebook or Twitter.

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July 18, 2012
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