Tackling Frailty – Facilitating the Emergence of Healthcare Robots from Labs into Service

The EMERGENCE network will create a sustainable eco-system of researchers, businesses, end-users, health and social care commissioners and practitioners, policy makers and regulatory bodies in order to build knowledge and capability needed to enable healthcare robots to support people living with frailty in the community.

By adopting a person-centred approach to developing healthcare robotics technology, this network will seek to improve the quality of life and independence of older people at risk of, and living with frailty, whilst helping to contain spiralling care costs. Individuals with frailty have different needs but, commonly, assistance is needed in activities related to mobility, self-care and domestic life, social activities and relationships. Healthcare can be enhanced by supporting people to better self-manage the conditions resulting from frailty, and improving information and data flow between individuals and healthcare practitioners, enabling more timely interventions.

Work will be carried out with clinical partners and user groups to translate the current health and social care challenges in assessing, reducing and managing frailty into a set of clear and actionable requirements that will inspire novel research and enable engineers to develop appropriate healthcare robotics solutions.

Best practice guidelines will be established to inform the design and development of healthcare robotics solutions, addressing assessment, reduction and self-management of frailty and end-user interactions for people with age-related sensory, physical and cognitive impairments. This will help the UK develop cross-cutting research capabilities in ethical design, evaluation and production of healthcare robots.

The network will also establish safety and regulatory requirements to ensure that healthcare robotic solutions can be easily deployed and integrated as part of community-based frailty care packages.¬† In addition it will identify gaps in the skills set of carers and therapists that might prevent them from using robotic solutions effectively and inform the development of training content to address these gaps. This will foster the regulatory, political and commercial environments and the workforce skills needed to make the UK a global leader in the use of robotics to support the government’s ageing society grand challenge.

Funded by EPSRC Healthcare Technologies New Challenges NetworkPlus

Start date 1 Feb 2022 – 31 January 2025