Where Are They Now: Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing

Category: Media Highlights

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One of the saddest parts of pet ownership is that humans generally outlive them. Such was the case with Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing’s Biscuit, the robotic dog and impetus behind the community’s win in 2013 in the McKnight’s Tech Awards High Tech/High Touch category.

Biscuit fell off a table and “was never the same,” said Davis Park, director at Front Porch. After he was put to rest, Park began researching other options.

He found Paro, a therapeutic robotic seal designed for people with dementia. After reaching out to the inventor, a deal was struck: Two Paros would be used at Front Porch in exchange for the community providing data.

A robot therapist trained staff via video conference. Once measurements began, the results were compelling.

“People who hadn’t spoken in weeks, if not months, were talking,” Park said.  Paro produced calming effects in 46% of wandering and 60% of anxious behaviors, plus helped residents stay alert.

The positive results led Front Porch to purchase six Paro devices. The cost made sense based on pilot results, says Front Porch president Kari Olson.

“Without the outcomes, it would have been a tough sell,” she says. Paro “really told us how technology can play a role in memory care.”