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The Village and Canadore College to research new ways to end seniors’ isolation

Feb 14, 2022 | Cindy Males, Public Relations and Communications Specialist

Will robots be the answer to social isolation for seniors? That is what The Village will investigate through a new research project entitled “The Use of Companion Social Robots with Older Adults: A Pilot Study Examining Impacts on Social Isolation, Social Inclusion, and Perceived Loneliness.”

“This project is important as it will help to address some of the barriers faced by older adults, particularly in the North, in feeling connected,” said Dr. Christina DeRoche, Canadore’s Research Manager.  “It will also determine how technology, such as these robots, can help in reducing loneliness and isolation, and improve overall quality of life.”

“Older adults living in retirement residences or affordable housing will work with students from the Canadore’s Health, Human Care and Wellness programs on this project,” said Dr. Anna-Liisa Mottonen, Social Sciences faculty and Primary Investigator.  “With the physical distancing required during the pandemic, these problems are likely to be exacerbated.”

“Students involved in the pilot study will benefit from training on how to handle and program artificial intelligence technology to understanding the effects of social robots on social isolation,” said Kelsey Lecappelain, Student Lead and Senior Inclusion Lead for The Village Collective Impact Project.  “Their involvement in the study not only provides an intergenerational approach to social programming, but also inspires innovation with the use of modern technology in their individual practices.”

The Village Collective Impact Project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizon’s for Seniors Program.  The Retired Teachers of Ontario (RTOERO) Districts 43 and 44 are collaborating with The Village on this project.

“District 43 of the Retired Teachers of Ontario is pleased to be partners with District 44 and Canadore in this project,” said Doug Bolger, District 43 President.  “RTOERO has identified social isolation as an important concern for our senior population. We feel this project has the potential to provide significant research on the use of robots to help create meaningful interaction for seniors in long-term care settings and other areas. The RTOERO Foundation has also focused its research and funding on geriatric training in the medical field and the issue of social isolation.”

"C'est intéressant. Quand on pense aux aînés, il ne s'agit pas simplement d'un groupe quelconque. Ils sont les nôtres et nous ferons partie de ce groupe, Les gens doivent

commencer à réaliser que c'est important pour eux, pour leur famille, pour ceux et celles qui les entourent. Tous doivent s'investir dans les solutions. C'est pourquoi le District 44 Région du ciel bleu de RTOERO s'est investi  comme partenaire dans ce projet de recherche portant sur le rôle que peut jouer la technologie  au service des ainés” (Louise Guerin, District 44 President, RTOERO).

The Village appreciates that the partnership participants believe that solutions for seniors’ isolation is important for everyone, and that each of us needs to be part of the solution, which is why her district is partnering on this research project which seeks to understand the possibilities of new technologies in the well-being of seniors.

“The applied research projects that Canadore College is undertaking will look for innovative solutions to real-life issues like social isolation,” said George Burton, Canadore College President and CEO.  “This particular initiative encompassing technology is one more example of how we work to follow that direction, while we continue to enhance our students’ learning opportunities.”

The project will begin as soon as provincial COVID-19 health and safety protocols allow.

#Health, Human, Wellness #sustainability #The Village