Norden nursing home trials ground-breaking robot technology to help residents

Date published: 20 September 2019

A new virtual consultation system, piloted for use by the Bury and Rochdale Care Organisation, dubbed ‘Robbie the robot’, is helping residents in a Rochdale care home avoid hospital admissions.

Located at Ashbourne Ashbourne Nursing Home in Norden, the innovative system allows the Care Home Extra Support Service (CHES) (a service run by the Bury and Rochdale Care Organisation, which is one of four Care Organisations that form the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group), to use a two-way encrypted video link, to provide a triage system, with nurses, physios, paramedics and other clinicians , assessing a resident’s medical needs and providing advice, assessment and onward referrals as necessary.

The device uses a high definition, mobile camera, speakers and microphone, and allows some medical monitoring devices to be ‘plugged in’ to the device, e.g. a stethoscope, allowing clinicians to perform part of a remote medical examination.

Currently the Care Home Extra Support Service helps to avoid admission for over 80% of care home residents they see. By using this device, it is expected to make the service even more efficient in avoiding unnecessary admissions by reducing response time and optimising clinician input.

Previously, when a resident was ill, the home had no option but to either call 999 or take a resident to A&E. By using this device and the CHES Service, it can help avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.

Colin Carr, Nurse Community Practitioner, Care Home Extra Support said: “This device is a great help in allowing us clinicians to see the patient and carry out a more thorough assessment, before making an initial clinical decision. It allows us to talk directly to the patient, and even remotely use a stethoscope to assist in examination.  It is easy to use, and the residents and staff have accepted its use well. Along with the Care Home Extra Support team, it has been instrumental in preventing unnecessary hospital attendance, ambulance use and keeping residents safe and well in their home.”

Mike Jones, Ashbourne Care Home Manager said: “The introduction of ‘Robbie the robot’ here at Ashbourne has helped provide a quick and effective response to resident’s urgent care needs.

“The CHES team give excellent guidance and advice to my staff via ‘Robbie’. This has resulted in our resident’s experience being less traumatic for themselves and their families.”

Keen to see the technology in action, Jon Rouse, the Chief Officer of the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, visited the nursing home on 29 August.

He later shared his experience via social media, saying: “Excellent visit to Rochdale today. Focus on integrated urgent care, use of remote consultations in care homes (thanks to Rob the Robot!) and the work of the integrated neighbourhood teams. Most encouraging.

“Very impressed with what I saw.”

Mr Jones added: “Mr Rouse visited Rochdale to see what is being done to improve patient care in the community. Early findings are very positive in achieving the correct and appropriate care required.

“I would like to say a massive thank you to Mr Rouse for visiting and his kind words, but also to all my team at Ashbourne Nursing Home for all their considerate and gracious care they give to all residents.”

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