Can voice technology help to reduce loneliness in older people?

A group of residents at the Abbeyfield Wessex Society’s Westbourne House are taking part in a trial to test the impact of voice technology on loneliness and isolation in older people.

A group of residents at the Abbeyfield Wessex Society’s Westbourne House are taking part in a trial to test the impact of voice technology on loneliness and isolation in older people. 

As part of this innovative project, which is being headed up by Bournemouth based digital agency and Abbeyfield's digital partner Greenwood Campbell, Google Home devices have been installed in a number of resident’s rooms to test how the technology may effect their daily lives and positively impact on loneliness, isolation and overall well-being.

Voice technology for older people

With help from members of the Greenwood Campbell team, residents have been taught how to use the Google Home devices to search the internet, listen to the radio and get the latest news headlines.

John, who lives at the house and is taking part in the trial, instantly asked Google to tell him a joke when we got him to try out a few of these skills. He said, “Life at Abbeyfield is wonderful but there are still times when I can feel lonely, particularly in the evenings.

“I think my new Google Home will provide me with lots of entertainment and help me out with my daily crossword puzzle.”

Abbeyfield wessex residents gets to grips with his new Google Home device

Loneliness and voice technology

The idea that voice recognition devices may help to combat loneliness in older and vulnerable individuals isn’t entirely new. In 2018, a clinical advisor to Public Health England showed his support for using voice as a way to alleviate these feelings.

“There’s significant potential here for older adults in particular,” said Professesor Sir Muir Gray, “They would benefit from hearing another voice to help prevent feelings of loneliness and isolation.”

What is a Google Home?

Google Home is a speaker and voice assistant that brings the power of Google into the home. Using voice technology, you can ask it questions and get it to do things for you simply by saying “OK Google.”

Things to ask your Google Home device:

• Ask it for weather updates
• Ask it to read you the latest news headlines
• Ask it to play you some music 
• Ask it to set alarms for you

We’re thrilled to be part of this exciting project with Greenwood Campbell, and can’t wait to see the results as the trial progresses!

 

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