April 5, 2023 7.00 am This story is over 14 months old

Robot seal pup becomes next step in Lincolnshire animal therapy

It can help establish social connection

Health and social care students at the University of Lincoln have been learning how using a robot seal pup could help them care out in the world of work.

The robot harp seal pup, called Sydney, is said to be particularly well suited for older adults with dementia and children, for example, on the autism spectrum.

Professor Michael Rowe, from the University of Lincoln’s School of Health & Social Care, told BBC Look North: “It’s really about trying to get people who would feel uncomfortable interacting with human beings, trying to give them an opportunity to get that social connection with something that doesn’t frighten them or make them feel more anxious.”

Sydney, the robot harp seal pup. | Screenshot: BBC Look North

Health & Social Care student Patricia Phillipson said: “To be honest I found it a little bit difficult because I think there’s always that question as well in health and social care of having the human element, whereas with robots I feel like that maybe is lost a little but at the same time there are definitely benefits as well.

“In terms of providing care it’s always best to be as well informed as possible so that you can suggest alternatives if the sort of traditional methods aren’t necessarily working.”

The BBC reports that the university has been given funding to ensure students graduate knowing how technology can help them care.

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