Special robots helping Manitoba dementia patients connect with family

WINNIPEG –

Fifteen Manitoba families will soon have a new way to connect with their loved ones living with dementia.

On Thursday, The Victoria Hospital Foundation gave attendees at its annual miracle garden party a sneak peek at new technology that will help families communicate.

The foundation is implementing telecommunication robots as a tool for dementia patients.

“We want to help people living with dementia by enabling a telepresence way of communicating between people living with dementia, typically the parents, and people who are the informal caregivers, typically the children,” said Dr. Amine Choukou, an assistant professor in the College of Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Manitoba’s Rady Faculty of Health Sciences

An app controls the robot, avoiding the need for the dementia patient to deal with technology.

“Typically, the caregiver would have a mobile app. They are going to use this app to simply make a call, and then the person where the robot is located won’t have to do anything,” said Choukou.

“When you aren’t calling, the robot is able to assist you in different ways. It can go to one location to another. It can give me the news. It can give me information on the weather. It can play videos for me and so many applications like that.”

Rhonda Chorney, the director of finance at the Victoria Hospital Foundation, said the robot will let families spend time with their loved ones no matter how far away they are from them.

“It’s a connection that they can make sure, talk to them daily, be in touch with them daily, making sure they’re taking their medication, making sure they are with reality and with them, their loved ones. It’s all is a full circle with the mental health as well.”

The robot was shown off at the garden party event because the robots were funded by the Victoria Hospital Foundation and other partners like Research Manitoba.

Chorney said the Miracle Garden Party is a big help in fundraising for projects like the robots.

“It will help in many ways. We know with COVID-19, mental health has become very important in our community, our city, our country. So this will just help all around.”

The sold-out 6th Annual Miracle Garden Party took place at four different local restaurants this year due to the pandemic. Chorney hopes next year it will be back in the normal spot at Victoria Hospital’s miracle garden.

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