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Health & Social Care

A patient receiving a telepresence call from a nurse

Image: OhmniLabs

Telemedicine and remote consultations

In recent times the COVID pandemic has led to a massive uptake in the use of video consultations where healthcare professionals can visit a patient remotely in their own home. Remote consultations can also be beneficial to local surgeries  where specialists can visit a clinic to provide support where a local expert is not available. As healthcare resources are under severe pressure, telepresence technology provides a much needed opportunity for the efficient deployment of staff by using remote visits from locations anywhere in the country. For example, experienced staff that have left the care industry having suffered through the stresses and strains of the COVID pandemic, could be offered the chance to return to work remotely by making visits using telepresence. This gives a chance for some of the more senior care workers to return to the job they love on a more flexible basis, whilst also giving much needed support to the less experienced care workers working onsite.

Telepresence has the benefit of putting the healthcare professional in full control of the camera position and view, preventing problems in communication as the patient or attending nurse try to position the camera as requested. If the robot is placed in the patients home, then the video call van be initiated easily without the patient needing to operate a device that many struggle to use.

Support for independent living at home

Having a telepresence robot in the home provides a simple way for family members or carers to visit. Thanks to the built-in video-calling capability, receiving a visit could not be easier. If you are a family member with an older relative, the robot gives you the peace of mind of being able to quickly and easily visit your loved one without having to travel every time. The mobile platform allows for a fuller interaction so that you can enjoy the moment together; for example by going into the kitchen whilst a meal is being prepared and then moving to the dining room when ready to eat.

A family visiting an older relative using a telepresence robot

Image: OhmniLabs

Case Study: Trailblazers Training Together Project with Age UK Bristol


A recent survey found that almost no local authorities in England were using telecare to address loneliness in older people (Woolham et al., 2018).  It has also been found that there is poor engagement with physical activity groups and other community-based programmes amongst older, isolated people due to low self-confidence.

We know that most older people would choose to live in their own homes, with care and support arranged around them. However, we also know that decreased physical fitness and ill-health can lead to loss of strength and mobility and increasing social isolation, posing further risks to health. At the same time we know that digital exclusion reduces people’s choices in terms of accessing services and maintaining social connectedness. The COVID lockdowns have led to many more older people getting online but there is still a significant group who have been unable to do so.

The project was funded through the Ageing Well Service Development Fund and delivered as part of a multi-layered partnership programme run by the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). It was initiated by Bristol Health Partners with delivery partner Age UK Bristol. Project co-ordination was by Age UK Bristol and Kirsty Brown from Fitness For Life.  Telepresence robots were sourced and supplied to Age UK Bristol by Robotics For Good C.I.C., along with ongoing support and training for the robot users. The technology included Alexa devices with an Alexa skill for exercise prompts and reminders. The Alexa devices were provided to the participants by Age UK Bristol with the University of Nottingham developing the Alexa skill. The devices were setup and supported by Robotics for Good CIC.  The project is being evaluated by the University of Nottingham and Bristol Health Partners and it is hoped that the project will lead on to wider initiatives with similar goals.

A volunteer visiting a care home resident on the telepresence robot

Project Overview

This project helped socially isolated older people in their own homes by using telepresence robots to allow volunteers to visit them remotely and help them to do simple exercises to build their strength and confidence with the aim of helping them to get out of the house and resume social contact.

A telepresence robot enables video communication without the client needing to setup any software and the interaction feels as though the volunteer is present with the client. The mobile platform of the robot allows the volunteer to move around with the client, allowing for a more social conversation and general feeling of presence.

Over the course of the project, regular visits from the volunteer were used to allow friendships to be established and through this social connection improve the mental wellbeing of clients.

Owing to the fact that the visits could be made from the volunteers’ own home, it also allows for the fact that people with a disability or unable to travel can use this technology to help others.

In addition to helping older people, the volunteers benefitted from being introduced to the latest in robotic technology and learning new computer skills with the chance to improve their own digital literacy.


More details can be found on the project website here.


The Trailblazers project was a Finalist in the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards, 2023.

Image shows a Trailblazers project volunteer visiting a care home resident using a telepresence robot.

Tech 4 Good Awards Finalist Logo

Image of the Ability Net Tech 4 Good Awards Finalist Logo

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