The article addresses commercial socially assistive robots (SAR). There is evidence of the impact of SAR on older persons in institutional settings. Family care at home has not yet been the subject of systematic research; however, especially at home SAR could help to prevent loneliness, provide emotional support, and foster communication.
Inspired by evidence on the potential impact of SAR, the article analyzes their potential for supporting family care at home. A participatory research and development (R&D) project stands as an example of how SAR can improve communication and relations at home.
Material and methods
Apart from the results of selected randomized controlled trials (RCT) in institutional settings, the article provides results from tests that were run in the R&D project.
SAR can increase the quality of life of users at home. They are capable of improving relations within family care. They inspire communication, change routines, and provide relief to family caregivers; however, it takes trained human companions to support the use of SAR at home and address ethical aspects.
If SAR are supposed to deliver their potential for care at home, older persons and their caregivers must be actively involved in research and development. These processes must be systematically evaluated.