York & North Yorkshire

Robot seals to keep North Yorkshire dementia patients company

Seal Image copyright Paroseal.co.uk
Image caption Yorkie the seal can react to being petted and praised by patients

Robotic seals designed to keep dementia patients company are to be trialled in North Yorkshire.

The lap-sized robot has a range of sensors enabling it to recognise light and dark and when it is being petted.

The therapeutic robots were first developed in Japan 15 years ago and have been used to support people with dementia since.

Dementia Forward will hold a three-month trial to evaluate the impact on patients' wellbeing.

The seal might resemble a child's toy, but its five sensors can detect touch, light, sound, temperature and posture, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Named Yorkie by North Yorkshire County Council, it can also recognize the direction of voice and words with its audio sensor.

A report to the county's care and independence scrutiny committee said: "Trials across the world have found it [the seal] reduces stress, stimulate interaction between people and carers, and has been shown to have a psychological effect on people, improving their relaxation and motivation and reducing challenging behaviour."

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