The effects of MARIO, a social robot, on the resilience of people with dementia: A multiple case study

Whelan, Sally
Burke, Megan
Barrett, Eva
Mannion, Arlene
Kovačič, Tanja
Santorelli, Adam
Luz Oliveira, Barbara
Gannon, Louise
Shiel, Edel
Casey, Dympna
Whelan, Sally, Burke, Megan, Barrett, Eva, Mannion, Arlene, Kovačič, Tanja, Santorelli, Adam, Luz Oliveira, Barbara Gannon, Louise, Shiel, Edel, Casey, Dympna. (2020). The effects of MARIO, a social robot, on the resilience of people with dementia: A multiple case study. Gerontechnology, 20 (August). doi:10.4017/gt.2020.20.413.10
Background: Resilience is a process of adapting to stress. For people with dementia, resilience is enhanced through having positive social relationships. Social robots, such as MARIO, can facilitate social engagement. However, the effect of social robots on resilience has not yet been determined. Objective: To investigate how MARIO, a social robot, affects the resilience of people with dementia. Method: Multiple case study methodology was used to explore the resilience of people with dementia during and after they used MARIO in 12 facilitated sessions. Data collection was conducted using: dementia care mapping; semi-structured interviews with people with dementia (n=10), caregivers (n=6), and relatives (n=7); and questionnaires including the Quality of Life in Alzheimer’s disease and The Resilience Scale. During sessions, data was collected using the Observational Measure of Engagement. Data analysis was guided by framework analysis. Qualitative and quantitative data were analysed in NVIVO 12 and SPSS respectively. Then, all data was triangulated in a matrix, analysed for similarities and differences within and across cases, and themes were developed. Results: The cross-case analysis produced four themes: Resilience changes minute to minute; Initiating and maintaining readiness; Active co-creation of meaningful activity; Impact on resilience. The findings revealed that people with dementia required skilled facilitation to use MARIO. During interactions with MARIO, the resilience of eight out of ten people was supported. Sessions with MARIO increased the wellbeing of people with dementia by providing a meaningful activity that re-enforced their positive self-concept. Conclusion: Social robots need to have greater capability to interpret and respond to the emotional needs of users if they are to benefit the resilience of people with dementia without the presence of a supportive facilitator. Future research should explore how strength-based strategies can empower people with dementia to create a meaningful activity using social robots.
International Society for Gerontechnology
Publisher DOI
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Ireland