Special ‘robo-cats’ are to be used as companions for people with learning disabilities and dementia in the area, following the launch of a Cambridgeshire County Council pilot scheme.
The robotic cats are part of a pilot exploring how technology can improve people's wellbeing, with the cats able to reduce anxiety and stress levels in people with learning disabilities and dementia.
The furry companions are part of a suite of technologies that Cambridgeshire County Council is using to improve people's wellbeing and also to help them stay independent.
The county council have said that the new pets can help people stay in control of their lives and include things that help with everyday tasks and situations, such as special cups that remind people to drink, or motion detector lights to help people move around their home in the middle of the night.
They can also help save lives and reduce serious injury, with tools like the lifeline system that allows an individual to raise the alarm if they have a fall or finds themselves in a difficult situation.
Lucy Forrest, technology enabled care team manager at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "As part of the pilot to explore enabling technologies we've invited people to test the cats and to give us their feedback. Not only do they purr, they also roll over, play and have sensors that respond to touch.
"Though they are fun, in no way are they a gimmick or a toy, they do have a serious role to play in reducing people's stress and anxiety and potentially trigger happier feelings. The reaction we have received has been amazing, bringing a smile to people's faces and we're now investigating whether they can improve people's wellbeing over the long term. The good news is they've had an immediate impact and actually bring out people's caring side."
Cambridgeshire County Council is transforming its adult social care services to meet a rising demand for services and also to bring the best practice to Cambridgeshire. Other examples include the Neighbourhood Cares pilots in Soham and St Ives to develop local solutions to improve people's wellbeing and independence and working with health partners to improve delayed transfers of care.
County Councillor Anna Bailey, Chairwoman of the Adults Committee said: "Technology can play an important role in helping people to remain independent. I have heard of lots of examples where the technology that Cambridgeshire County Council has implemented has reduced the worry and stress for carers and families and helped people to stay independent. This often means people can stay in their own home near to family, neighbours and friends, which is where most people want to be - it really can make an incredible difference to people's lives. It's helping Cambridgeshire County Council and its partners meet the growing demand for our services at a time of unprecedented budget challenges and actually helping to reduce demand for formal care services.
"We are also looking at how we can transform our learning disability services, for example by giving people opportunities to learn workplace skills which increases confidence, wellbeing and independence".