Southend’s mini robot to transform social care

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has introduced a new child-size robot designed to help transform the way it delivers social care services.

Known as ‘Pepper’, the council is the first in the country to buy and use the humanoid’ robot under an academic license, which has the ability to communicate as well as perceive emotions. Being able to adapt his own behaviour and make independent decisions, it is hoped that Pepper can help dementia sufferers and children with complex disabilities.

Lesley Salter, executive councillor for Health and Adult Social Care, says: “I am very proud that Southend-on-Sea is leading the way and we are all so excited to see what Pepper and this technology in general can do for our services and help us meet the well-known challenges that the social care sector faces.

“Robots may seem like something from the distant future, but the technology is here and we strongly believe that Pepper can have a positive impact on social care as we continue to transform our services and make sure they are fit for the future. “Pepper has a number of features that we believe will be of real benefit to local people that we care for, and we think he could run a reminiscence group for those with dementia for example, freeing up time for social workers and carers to carry out one to one activity. Academics at universities are also exploring how robotics can help stroke survivors to do physio exercises for example.

“We are absolutely clear that Pepper is not here to replace any of our people, but to complement and help the existing staff we have to deliver a better service by freeing up time for them to deal directly with people for example.”

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