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Advanced Robotics: The Future of Aged Care Services

10:50am 16 September 2010

Gillian Reid
Gillian Reid FNZCS ITCP

Deputy Chair, Selwyn Foundation

The statistics around the aging population in New Zealand are worrying whichever way we look at it. Currently over 500,000 people are aged 65+, projected to double by 2028. By 2051, greater than 25% of our population is expected to be over 70.

This increase will bring about major logistical issues in how we, as a country, care for our elderly. More people will require support, and already the ratio of nurses and care-givers to elderly clients is low.

Can technology help bridge this gap?

The value of robotics for healthcare could be huge in terms of health, societal and economic benefits. Robots offer the promise of sustainable and affordable health provision without compromising quality of care.

Some products are already available, like the surgical robot Da Vinci, which helps the surgeon, who sits at a special console, to perform very precise minimally invasive surgery procedures, and the care-bot, which monitors patients and helps them with daily routine activities at the same time. These are just the beginning of a completely new way of delivering healthcare services.

In addition to this, the University of Auckland Dept of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the Intelligent Robot Division of Korea’s Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute and the Selwyn Foundation are jointly working on revolutionising the field with the creation of Charlie, the 21st Century Care-Giver.

Charlie(s) will help nursing staff and independently-living elderly with tasks that can be effectively managed by a robotic device, such as:

  • Vital signs monitoring and recording
  • Information management
  • Medication reminders
  • Patient identity and tracking
  • General fetch and carry tasks
  • Video and audio links to families and carers
  • Falls monitoring

In this presentation Gillian Reid FNZCS ITCP, Deputy Chair of the Selwyn Foundation, will outline how technologies such as Charlie are innovating aged-care healthcare, how and why Charlie was designed, and the impact early prototypes are making in trials at Selwyn Village in Auckland.

About Gillian Reid

Dr Gillian Reid (QSM) is a Fellow of NZCS (FNZCS) and ITCP, and has been Head of the Computer Studies and Applied Mathematics Department of the Auckland Institute of Technology and a lecturer in Management at the University of Auckland.

She was the first IT Director of Sky City Ltd, and has worked as a senior ICT manager in software development companies and for international ICT service delivery companies such as IBM and EDS. She now has her own successful ICT Consultancy.

Along with these professional positions, she has applied her ICT knowledge to many executive positions in the voluntary sector. She was the first woman President of the New Zealand Computer Society. She is also a past President and Assistant Secretary General of the South East Asian Regional Computer Confederation (SEARCC), and was awarded the QSM in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2010 for services to the community.

She is currently Deputy Chair of the Selwyn Foundation, a large Anglican charitable trust operating over several sites throughout the upper North Island, that provides care for the elderly.  It is in this role that she has been part of the strategic implementation of ICT in the Selwyn Foundation Group to change the way service delivery to the elderly is considered and managed.