The perceptions of people with dementia and key stakeholders regarding the use and impact of the social robot MARIO
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Casey, Dympna, Barrett, Eva, Kovacic, Tanja, Sancarlo, Daniele, Ricciardi, Francesco, Murphy, Kathy, Koumpis, Adamantios, Santorelli, Adam, Gallagher, Niamh, Whelan, Sally. (2020). The Perceptions of People with Dementia and Key Stakeholders Regarding the Use and Impact of the Social Robot MARIO. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(22). doi: 10.3390/ijerph17228621
People with dementia often experience loneliness and social isolation. This can result in increased cognitive decline which, in turn, has a negative impact on quality of life. This paper explores the use of the social robot, MARIO, with older people living with dementia as a way of addressing these issues. A descriptive qualitative study was conducted to explore the perceptions and experiences of the use and impact of MARIO. The research took place in the UK, Italy and Ireland. Semi-structured interviews were held in each location with people with dementia (n = 38), relatives/carers (n = 28), formal carers (n = 28) and managers (n = 13). The data was analyzed using qualitative content analysis. The findings revealed that despite challenges in relation to voice recognition and the practicalities of conducting research involving robots in real-life settings, most participants were positive about MARIO. Through the robot’s user-led design and personalized applications, MARIO provided a point of interest, social activities, and cognitive engagement increased. However, some formal carers and managers voiced concern that robots might replace care staff.