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Views And Reviews

David Oliver: Will robotic automation solve social care?

BMJ 2018; 363 doi: (Published 21 November 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;363:k4854

Rapid Response:

Re: David Oliver: Will robotic automation solve social care?

‘Ara Darzi, surgeon and former health minister, has this year called for “full automation” of “repetitive tasks” in health and care services’

Proposed robotic intervention can save finances in Social care by replacing people with robotic automation ! ‘Repetitive tasks’ still require sensitivity and compassion and a person’s individual needs to be gauged carefully each time they are supported. People don’t require the same support every time they need assistance. Repetitive tasks are far more than just assisting a person with washing or dressing, it is the personal contact warmth and compassion that a person is afforded that is an essential part of social care. Robotic assistance won’t have the intuition to know when someone’s needs are changing. Emotional needs are not quantifiable. It would be disastrous for care to be delivered in a merely task oriented way. People are not a tick list of tasks merely to be completed. Care requires knowledge, experience and compassion to be blended to support people’s needs. Care is a partnership, reliant on trust and a developing professional relationship. Robotic assistance isn’t sentient.

Competing interests: No competing interests

24 November 2018
Sue Newsome
HCA Ex carer for my Dad