The robot assistant developed and commercialised by SARA Robotics improves the quality of life of elderly residents, eases their longing for social contacts and reduces the staff's workload. Care institutions are taking notice.
The SARA robot, developed as part of the "Social & Autonomous Robotic Health Assistant" innovation activity of EIT Digital, led by Bright Cape, was one of the main attractions at the EIT Digital Conference in Brussels last year. SARA Robotics, the startup created to commercialise it, has made many progresses since then.
It has already signed up three Dutch care institutions as customers, Zorggroep Elde Maasduinen, tanteLouise and Het Laar and, with the COVID-19 pandemic shining a spotlight on the wellbeing of elderly guests of nursing homes and on the shortage of staff there, its services are in growing demand.
"As visitors were no longer allowed in those institutions, we had a lot of requests, from our customers but also from other facilities, asking if it was possible to use the robot to help clients have some form of communication with their friends and relatives. So, we built the option to video call via SARA and we also explored more options such as the uploading of pre-made videos or photos which can be viewed by residents at any time, even without an Internet connection," says Emmy Hendriks, Product Manager of SARA Robotics.
The startup also set up a promotional campaign, "SARA stays over" (SARA blijft slapen), allowing care institutions to borrow the robots for free for one month, to get some support out of it and test its functionalities. "We just wanted to do something good for the residents of those facilities and, at the same time, it was a nice opportunity for us to showcase our innovation and see if these care homes would be interested to pursue a longer collaboration," Hendriks explains.