Introducing PARO seal - a robot resource for people with dementia

4th August 2014

Patients with dementia in Sheffield are communicating and interacting more after we became the first NHS Trust in the country to introduce the services of a companion robot.

We have introduced PARO Seal - an advanced interactive robot with tactile sensors which responds to sounds and can show emotions such as surprise and happiness.

When stroked it moves its head and body and opens and closes its eyes. Left untouched, PARO will call out to engage the person holding it, but will also ‘sleep’, encouraging the service user to settle.

Used around the world, staff from the Trust received training in the PARO Seal technology in Denmark last year.

Occupational therapist Claire Jepson said: “PARO helps calm and relax service users and can distract and reassure them if they are distressed by situations such as having their blood taken or being assisted with self-care."

“The seal is not intended to replace human contact and interaction, but rather to complement and enhance it.  It is not just a stuffed toy, it is much more sophisticated and interactive than that, and it is fascinating to see how people engage with it."

“It is helping improve service users’ communication and interaction. One man, whose condition means he is often dealing with high levels of distress, sat in the garden with PARO and, when she visited, his wife couldn’t believe how contented he was."

“Another lady often carries it around with her – reassuring the seal by grooming it helps soothe her in turn. PARO enables her to experience a care-giving role, which is something very important to her."

“Touch is a basic human need and PARO’s shape and size means it can fit against people’s torsos comfortably – so it is like a portable hug!  There is huge potential for PARO to benefit a lot of people. We have witnessed this and it is truly humbling.”

Paroseal 2