• Paro the robotic seal

It’s not every day a baby seal visits a care home.

However, The Orders of St John Care Trust (OSJCT) is now home to two very special ‘Paro’ seals. Paro seals are therapeutic robots designed for people living with dementia. This week Paro paid a special visit to the residents at Langford View Care Home in Bicester.

Paro is a robot that looks and behaves like a baby harp seal and is intended to have a calming effect on residents living with dementia by provoking emotional responses. Paro’s coat is a pure white synthetic fur and his sensors allow him to react to the person who is holding him, stroking him and talking to him.

Paro first visited the Trust during a pilot study conducted by The Oxford Institute of Population Aging. The study endeavored to understand how older people and people with dementia benefit from interacting with therapeutic robots. The study found that Paro made residents feel less lonely, more loved and some residents who tended to be isolated started to enjoy more social interaction.

OSJCT’s Admiral Nurse, Angie Williams, said: “We are very fortunate to be given the opportunity to use Paro, the newest technology in dementia care, as part of the therapeutic interventions available to residents living with dementia. Paro is amazing as he responds to residents’ engagement with him and this appears to be what residents like most. Seeing Paro in action can melt your heart; residents who would not normally engage seem to really respond to him. When we go into the care homes, they no longer greet us, they ask ‘have you brought Paro with you?’”

Paro’s charm was certainly appreciated by residents at Langford View, who spent time stroking him and talking to him and were fascinated by his responsive movements. Residents were unanimous: come back again soon, Paro!