International Journal of Social Robotics

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 575–591 | Cite as

The Role of Healthcare Robots for Older People at Home: A Review

  • Hayley Robinson
  • Bruce MacDonald
  • Elizabeth BroadbentEmail author


This review aimed to identify the areas of need that older people have, and the available solutions. In particular, the robotic solutions are explored and critiqued and areas for future development identified. The literature was reviewed for factors that influence admission to nursing home care, and for technological solutions to these factors. The main issues facing older people are physical decline, cognitive decline, health management, and psychosocial issues. Robots exist that may meet some of the identified issues but gaps where robots could be developed include delivering interventions to prevent physical decline occurring and robots with multiple functions, including a range of cognitive stimuli and health education. To reduce barriers to acceptance, robots designed to provide physical and healthcare assistance should have a serious appearance. On the other hand animal-like robots can address psychosocial issues and function like pets. While smart phones and computers can offer some solutions, robots may promote adherence due to a social presence. Robots are being developed to address areas of need in older people, including physical, cognitive, medical and psychosocial issues. However more focus could be placed on developing preventative interventions, multifunctional robots, greater educational content and motivational aspects of appearance and interaction style.


Healthcare robots Robotics Ageing Assistive technologies 



We thank Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) and Yujin Robot for their valuable contributions and help with the research. We would also like to thank our colleagues at University of Auckland on the HealthBots research team for their ongoing support.

Conflict of interest

No conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hayley Robinson
    • 1
  • Bruce MacDonald
    • 2
  • Elizabeth Broadbent
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Psychological MedicineThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.Department of Psychological MedicineThe University of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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