Evaluating Canteen’s TRECA (using Telepresence Robots to Engage Cancer patients in education) service
Examining the acceptability of using telepresence robots to enable young patients to connect to their school, and how this service may improve psychosocial wellbeing.
Adolescent cancer patients experience considerable absence from their education, contributing to poorer academic attainment and isolation from peers, and impacting wellbeing. Telepresence robots are a novel way of supporting the educational and social needs of young people who are unable to attend school due to illness, by enabling them to connect to school from their home or hospital bed. In 2017, Canteen began exploring the development of a robot service. Interviews with patients, parents, schools and healthcare workers revealed that telepresence robots were perceived as an acceptable way of connecting cancer patients to school.
As a result of these interviews, Canteen developed the TRECA service, offering both mobile (the DoubleTM) and static robots (the KubiTM) to cancer patients that are unable to attend school due to their treatment or its side effects. Interviews were conducted with patients, parents, teachers and psychosocial clinicians who pilot-tested the service. Participants reported that:
• The TRECA service’s flexibility in meeting the needs of its users helped facilitate meaningful connections to school and peers
• These connections provided patients an enhanced sense of agency and wellbeing
• Taking an individualised approach to service delivery and ensuring adequate stakeholder buy-in is key to a successful service
Further research is currently being conducted, with a full service evaluation underway assessing the service’s impacts on various patient and implementation outcomes (e.g., connectedness, distress, illness stigma).
Powell, T., Cohen, J., & Patterson, P. Keeping connected with school: Implementing telepresence robots to improve the wellbeing of adolescent cancer patients. Frontiers in Psychology, In Press (2021). doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.749957