I saw a news article today about a nursing “robot” named Pepper that has been created to ask questions, give directions and interact with patients.
Everyone seemed pretty entertained by her, as she gave instructions on how to find the cafeteria, and telling patients sternly to stop smoking.
For 30,000 dollars, she’d want to be bloody entertaining.
The whole concept of bringing a robot in, to do a nurse’s job – even if it IS only for fun – makes me twitchy.
Firstly, condensing the depth of the nursing role down to tea and coffee and asking about toileting, is quite frankly, completely condescending to those of us who actually do the bloody work every day. The most crucial, and irreplaceable components of the nursing role are our HUMANITY, our CONNECTION, and our EMPATHY. And despite an increasingly technological world, and a huge tendency to outsource as much as we can to machines, there is absolutely no benefit to a robotic role that I can see here.
Advocates suggest that if the robot asks the questions and collects the data on behalf of the nurses, we will save lots of time. But guys, you’re forgetting the whole multifaceted aspect of nursing!
While I’m sitting and asking the questions, I’m also assessing EVERYTHING about that person. Their colour. Their balance. Their vitals. Their body language. Their breathing. Their dietary preferences. The way their hands shake. Their ability to swallow. They way they interact with their partner.
Despite what the decision makers might be trying to drive home, nursing assessment is a hell of a lot more detailed than ticking a few boxes. And I’d much rather do it myself, so that I can build that rapport with my patients, than to simply follow along behind a robot (no matter how cute she may be) so that I can attend to their hygiene.
Secondly, when wards can’t get the staffing that they need because the budget says no, yet a 30,000 dollar robot is cruising around the bedsides, I can’t help but to feel a bit….pissed. What does that tell us about OUR value as humans?? And how on earth has this kind of thing been prioritised??
If this is the way of the future, then I’m really, REALLY concerned.
Technology is great in a lot of ways, but in this field, it should NEVER replace human contact and interaction.
Can you imagine waking up out of surgery, off your head on pain medication, and having Pepper at your bedside asking about your pain score?
No. Just no.
If you want patients to have better care, and nurses to have more workable work loads, just bring in more nurses, thanks.
You can keep your robots in the toy room where they belong.