RAI Dementia

Robot-assisted interaction for people with dementia in nursing and care institutions in Upper Austria

Photo: Senior citizen with two robotic cats and visitor

Evidence from research on people with dementia suggests that the use of modern technologies can re-activate existing cognitive abilities, strengthen independence and promote social inclusion again.  Robot-assisted interaction can provide emotional and psychosocial relief to people with dementia and those in need of care and support - both by calming or preventing agitation and activation through emotional participation.

Project goal
The project aims to provide people in need of care and assistance as well as people suffering from dementia with positive effects such as calming, participation, increased well-being and quality of life through robot-assisted interaction.
For this purpose, 8 people in each of 6 Upper Austrian nursing and care facilities will be given the latest generation of robotic animals (cat, dog). The aim is to evaluate the effects of the robot-assisted interaction for the affected target group and the caring environment in terms of psyche, health and costs, and to share the results and findings with the public. The evaluation provides for documentation using standardised methods; in addition, a qualitative survey of the caregivers will be conducted.

The latest generation of robot-assisted soft toys are available at a fraction of the cost of the pioneer generation (e.g. PARO seal) and are characterised by, among other things stable sensory/motor functions, lifelike animals (cat, dog), intuitive handling and low-cost operation.

So far, results from international research point to positive effects of robot-assisted intervention for the target group, especially in the form of

  • Reduction of challenging behaviour
  • Reduction of depressive states
  • pain relief
  • self-efficacious occupation and
  • increase in well-being

Since the previous acquisition costs for robot-assisted interaction due to high individual costs in the acquisition, equipment, maintenance and care of the robot animals as well as ethical concerns (e.g. deception of the test persons by fake animals versus living animals), were limiting factors for the successful and sustainable use in Upper Austrian care and nursing facilities, we would like to make a positive contribution for people in need of care and nursing and people with dementia with state-of-the-art and affordable robot technology including evaluation and accompanying research. 

Cooperation Partner

  • Diakoniewerk Gallneukirchen
  • FH Gesundheitsberufe (University of Applied Sciences for Health Professions Upper Austria)

  • Contact

    Mag. Thomas Burger
    Project management
    Phone +43 732 997056

    01.09.2021 - 31.12.2021

  • Project Type

    National projeckt
  • Support Program


    Logo: Upper Austria, in white letters on red circle

    Upper Austria: Innovation fund – grant for the research, development and use of innovative and digital care technologies