Japan is facing a Patient Care Technician shortage with an ever growing elderly population. They plan to use robots in the near future to replace humans in nursing homes and other medical environments for the elderly.

So what happens when we take the human touch out of patient care?

In many cultures through the centuries good health depends a lot on human touch. There is a strong belief that when the body is sick or injured it is due to an imbalance of energy and the healing touch can restore balance and promote health. It has been proven over and over in neonatal situations that babies thrive when the mother, patient care technician or over medical team member provides human touch.

Everyone responds positively when given a gentle hug by someone they know and trust. Human contact and touch promotes relaxation, improves circulation, aids in proper digestion and supports the immune system. Pain is greatly reduced when trained healing massage is introduced.

Human touch therapy even in small doses by a patient care technician has great benefits for patients. For example, let’s look at a sick or elderly patient confined to their bed. A warm gentle bed bath, shampoo (given in the bed), or a gentle back massage with a soft lotion, reduces pain, anxiety, stress, depression, improves mobility, supports the immune system (especially while undergoing chemotherapy or radiation), deepens a spiritual connection (human bond), can speed recovery after trauma or surgery, can reduce hospital stays and even help one through the dying process.

Human touch and the compassion it brings is beneficial to patients in hospitals, nursing homes and hospices. A Patient Care Technician’s human touch bring a daily sense of personal safety and empathy to their patients that a mechanical robot can’t duplicate.

When we take the human touch out of the medical care equation and replace it with robotics in the daily care of patients, we risk the patient’s fight for survival. The cold inhuman robotic environment will surely bring a new meaning to end of life care. Some in the political arena will see robotic care as a solution for an overburdened system of the growing elderly population. A cold solution for a cold institutionalized environment.

What type of care would you like in your last remaining years?