A robotic solution to the healthcare worker shortage

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Long-term healthcare is still facing a crisis, a major workforce shortage.

“And every year it’s been getting worse and worse and then finally when the pandemic hit it just got to an all-time low where we are I would say at rock bottom”, says Chief Operation Officer Marc Halpert.

Marc and the team at Monarch Nursing Homes have said the shortages are effecting how many people they accept into their facilities. Halpert says, “Over half of our facilities have admission caps. Where we cannot admit people because we don’t have the staff to take care of them."

There are currently sitting at 65-70% when they normally operate at 85%. And with limited space more people a filling up hospital beds, due to them not being able to be transferred to long-term care.

And with that ongoing search comes robots. The UMD Robotics Research Team is about to innovate the way we think about health care. Professor Arisha Kahn says, "This is groundbreaking. Literally groundbreaking we’ve never done… nobody has ever done anything like this in the US."

UMD is now partnering with monarch nursing homes to help with the worker shortage, and improve healthcare. The goal is that the robots take over the basic tasks of caregiving while nurses focus on the more complicated aspects.

Halpert says, "What was explained to me was a resident may be having some anxieties some behavioral cognition issues that maybe the robot could set in the room with them and calm them down and be a friend to them while the staff member could work on something else."

Professor Kahn elaborated to say, “The human beings can be used for different things that are more important, more complex, that require more intellectual capacity, whereas the robots can be doing repetitive mundane activates.”

The robotic technology will be used to give the short staffed nursing homes extra time and a helping hand. There will be robots delivered to 16 different Monarch facilities come January 2020.