Recently, the Europe Hospitals have acquired Zora, a small robot. Its presence at the Ste-Elisabeth site, especially at the moment in the geriatrics unit, might cause confusion or amusement to any person who has yet to see it work with patients.
Time and especially the reactions of the patients have convinced therapists of its usefulness. True, it requires a lot of preparation work and a good knowledge of its programs, but it is worth the effort. Once the robot is properly programmed, it is easy to use.
Zora is not autonomous. It cannot replace a healthcare professional; it merely enhances the therapeutic approach.
For example, it can energise a sitting gymnastics group, or a standing balance group. Patients, despite their sometimes advanced age, are curious, smile and even laugh; they are at ease and apply themselves more, using all of their abilities to follow Zora in their exercises. The therapist no longer has to show them how to perform the exercises and now is free to help patients, to correct them and to stimulate them in a more personal manner.
Zora is like a mandarin on Saint Nicholas Day; it is not indispensable, but it provides added pleasure. This approach is much appreciated individually and in “let’s sing with Zora” group sessions, where Zora dances and sings to the rhythm of music suited to the therapeutic goals and to the patients (age, interests, language...). Emotions run high, from laughter to tears, depending on the musical programming. This allows patients to talk about their lives, what they miss, their joys, how they experience life in general, and of the people who are important to them.
Relatives are sometimes present and are generally delighted, having overcome their initial apprehension. Zora lays the groundwork to create new memories for the future, and to share friendly moments.
Patients forget the hospital setting for a while, and discussions and all types of exercises are conducted with pleasure and emotional intensity