Roseville nursing home brings in robots to help with patient care

Robots are providing a helping hand in at least one care facility in the Twin Cities, as nursing homes struggling with finding staff.

The Estates nursing home in Roseville added two new robots to their facility to help those living with Alzheimer's and dementia. 

Patients at the nursing home are getting to know their new robotic helpers, Rosie and Pepper, which can help people to live longer and happier lives. Pepper helps Alzheimer’s and dementia patients with reminiscence therapy. The patient’s pictures and memories are entered into Pepper, who can talk and comment about them.

However, Pepper is more than just a companion to talk to. She can recognize when a patient’s vitals reach seizure point and intervene or can help with sundowning when someone gets confused, anxious, and sometimes aggressive late afternoon into the evening. 

"She can talk, she can interact, she can do facial recognition, she can interact with a person, so it’s more of a social and emotional support," said Arshia Khan, a professor of computer science at the University of Minnesota Duluth. 

Pepper’s side-kick Rosie steps in for more of the physical activities. She helps with physical therapy and leads exercise classes, yoga and dancing. 

"We saw it as a way to empower our staff to have higher functioning, more meaningful interactions and have something like a robot do the less meaningful actions," said Dan Strittmatter with Monarch, the company that runs the nursing home. 

The duo is an addition, not a replacement for any of the staff. Pepper and Rosie are serving as a tool to make the experience at The Estates better for everyone.

"Let the robots handle the mundane, boring daily tasks and leave the more essential, tasks that require more thinking and stuff like that for humans to take care of," said Khan.

Pepper and Rosie will stay at The Estates, but their parent company, Monarch, bought 16 robots that will be moving into various facilities in the coming weeks.