Meet Grace, the humanoid robot offering companionship in a Montreal nursing home


Lovely, clever and well-dressed.

That’s how 82-year-old Francis Greenberg describes Grace, the latest member at her long-term care home in Montreal’s Notre-Dame-De-Grâce neighbourhood.

Grace is a rosy-cheeked, young-looking lady with a layered bob haircut. Oh, and she or he’s additionally a robot. 

Designed by the GeriPARTy Laboratory staff, Grace might be visiting Résidence Pearl & Theo twice a week for the subsequent eight weeks as a part of a research led by Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital.

Her aim throughout every 30-minute session might be to maintain seniors residing in nursing properties firm and assist break social isolation.

“It’s pretty to have one thing like this right here,” mentioned Greenberg, who’s amongst three seniors collaborating in the research. 

“Unfortunately I haven’t got any grandchildren, so it is a first expertise.”

Francis Greenberg is considered one of three residents at Montreal’s Résidence Pearl & Theo collaborating in the research. (Charles Contant/CBC News)

Grace is designed to pay attention when individuals converse, then generate a response. She may inform jokes, do studying workout routines and discuss matters that seniors is likely to be in. 

To make interactions with the robot extra sensible, the GeriPARTy staff programmed motion into not solely the eyes, but in addition the neck and arms. 

Theodora Montoure, co-owner of Résidence Pearl & Theo, says she’s excited to have Grace in her halls. The humanoid robot will be capable to prioritize residents’ social wants and fill in the place employees can’t, she says. 

WATCH | Here’s how Grace tries to make seniors really feel much less lonely:

This humanoid robot is tasked with breaking senior isolation

A seniors residence in Montreal is collaborating in a pilot venture to see if humanoid robots may help seniors with loneliness.

“We, as caregivers, are busy. Our residents will not be busy all day lengthy,” she mentioned. 

“The complete business is so understaffed … we shouldn’t have time to chit-chat and play with the residents all through the day, however the robot can.”

Montoure says Grace may even be accessible to all residents. “They are all on completely different ranges — mentally or they’re growing old in a different way — and so they’ll discover that the robot will be capable to work together with them on their degree,” she mentioned. 

Theodora Montoure, co-owner of the nursing home, says Grace is a great addition to her staff. She says the robot will be capable to supply residents firm and a compassionate ear when employees are too busy to take action. (Charles Contant/CBC News)

Dr. Paola Lavin, a analysis affiliate at the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital, who’s main the venture, says it’s meant to assist lower loneliness and enhance the psychological well being of confined older adults — points which were highlighted all through the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We are hoping that the interactions with Grace might given [seniors] a area to vent, to be actively listened to, have social interactions and to take pleasure in a good time,” she mentioned. 

Amid staffing shortages in well being care, together with in nursing properties, Lavin says the robot can fill an vital rift and function an assistant to people — not as a substitute. 

Despite the proven fact that she’ll be capable to see and interpret seniors, Grace won’t be able to develop her personal feelings. 

“She may very well be working [throughout] the day with out fatigue, with out all the psychological burden of coping with very robust feelings as we people normally do,” she mentioned. 

Dr. Paola Lavin, who’s main the venture, says the outcomes of the research will make it attainable to enhance the robot’s interactions with seniors and assist obtain the aim of integrating them in nursing properties throughout Canada. (Charles Contant/CBC News)

Lavin says the staff might be searching for preliminary suggestions from seniors about their experiences interacting with Grace in order to maintain instructing her how one can higher serve older adults. The final aim is to combine humanoid robots in retirement and lengthy‐time period care properties all through Canada.

For Montoure, the venture — developed throughout the pandemic — exhibits her one factor: “Finally, somebody considered the seniors.” 

After years of seniors being “ignored fully,” Montoure says she’s excited to see what influence this new pal could have on their spirits.

“Did one thing good come out of COVID? Yes. Grace got here out of COVID,” she mentioned. 


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