By Asina Pornwasin
The Nation Weekend
THE Thai-made Dinsow Mini robot has been upgraded and reborn as “Nong Lamai” nursing assistants at the Bangkok Rehabilitation Centre (BRC), and is expected to become widely used as a home companion for the elderly.
A trial research collaboration among Bangkok Healthcare Service, CT Asia Robotics and a university have led to the creation of 300 Nong Lamai assistants at the rehabilitation centre.
The centre was established two years ago to offer rehabilitation services to stroke patients. It has an
80-bed in-patient capacity and services 30 outpatients daily.
Nittaya Chanaisawan, managing director of Bangkok Healthcare Service, which operates BRC, said the robot serves a dual role as a companion for patients and the elderly and as a nursing assistant.
Though most people have only encountered robots in science-fiction TV and movies where they often display human attributes and are often presented as villains, real-life robots serve as tools. Nong Lamai robots offer smarter and safer healthcare services to patients and seniors. And in combination with a heart-rate wristband, they serve to alert nurses or caregivers to medical problems.
At the rehabilitation centre, Nong Lamai assistants help monitor and detect unusual conditions experienced by a patient. They can detect a fall, monitor vital signs and alert caregivers to fresh urine or stools.
“It can be used for a video-call between a doctor and nurse at the centre. It also can be inputted with the favourite content of a patient in order to entertain and to be familiar to the patient or elderly person,” said Nittaya.
Moreover, under the collaboration, use of Nong Lamai will extend beyond the stroke centre to the nursing home and home-care service. The company also operates Asia Nursing Home, providing at-home and nursing home services, with four branches and 200 patients.
The robot will be in widespread and normal use in the healthcare centre and at home.
Nittaya said her dream is to help encourage the use of robots in care-giving for patients and the elderly both at the centre and at home. Therefore, the company has set up a 24-hour call centre operated by nurses to offer services for patients and the elderly who have Nong Lamai at home.
“We always help monitor all unusual incidents and accidents immediately detected by Nong Lamai. The call centre will provide assistants and advice about how to take care of the patient and elderly via Nong Lamai,” said Nittaya.
It has also sets up a “Robot-Training Centre” to train and educate how to efficiently use robots in healthcare services.
“Nong Lamai was redesigned and redeveloped according to the ideas and passion of the company’s healthcare services in order to best take care of our patients and elderly,” said Nittaya. She said the robot can function as a nurse’s assistant to either take care of a patient or to be a home companion for the elderly.
There is the need to create a sense of the familiar in using robots with people. In the future, she expected to see one robot assigned to each elderly person.
Bangkok Healthcare Service also operates a training school for nurse assistants, and graduate s around 300 nurse assistants annually. The school will train them how to operate Nong Lamai to offer healthcare for stroke patients and the elderly.
“We use robots in providing caregiving service for patients both at Bangkok Rehabilitation Centre and at Asia Nursing Home, as well as through our home-care service. We really hope that a patient’s family will be able to operate Nong Lamai and become familiar with her – that will potentially lead them to decide to have Nong Lamai at home,” said Nittaya.
Apart from partnering with CT Robotics, the centre is also working with other partners in co-developing and co-trialling innovations and technologies for healthcare services such as SCG. The centre also has collaborated with SCG in studying how to develop and implement innovations in healthcare services.
Chalermpon Punnotok, chief executive officer, CT Robotics, says the company sees great potential in the elderly care segment. This collaboration is just the company’s latest move in healthcare, elderly care and the medical market.
“Partnering with Bangkok Healthcare Service will combine the strength of each of us – our technology and their healthcare service – to offer a total solution for elderly and stroke patients. After entering this market with Dinsow Mini, this was our next move,” said Chalermpon.
To fit the healthcare service needs of elderly and stroke patient, both at the centre and at home, the Dinsow Mini needed to be redesigned, additional features added. The result was Nong Lamai.
“Our partner, Bangkok Healthcare Service, has sent nurse assistants to efficiently to school to be trained in efficiently operating Nong Lama for elderly and stroke patients,” said Chalermpon.
The company will bring this model to the Japanese market some time this year, he added.
CT Robotics previously had success with the Dinsow Mini penetration into the elderly care market through working with local Thai and Japanese partners.