Robots serve food to seniors at Delaware County retirement community

MEDIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "The community here is great. It really changed my life because I don't have to do anything," said Jacquelin DeFilippo. "They clean my apartment, they cook my meals, they take me places. It's great."

For the last five years, DeFilippo has been accustomed to humans responding to her needs at Wesley Enhanced Living (WEL) Main Line. But recently, she met her first robot.

"R2-D2, we named him," she joked.

WEL hired their latest computerized staff members just about a month ago. Two "Matradee Robots" by Richtech Robotics use smart technology to avoid obstacles and navigate the dining hall.

"Before, they were carrying out hot plates one in each hand. We've got walkers and all kinds of things in there and they can trip," said DeFilippo. "The robots just come up and they come to the right table and then the servers just put it on our table."

Residents are charmed by the far-from-robotic personalities of each server.

"I look forward to coming down to dinner just to see it," said Rose Powers. "My birthday will be coming up and I can't wait to hear it sing Happy Birthday."

But the robots do more than simply enrich the social lives of each senior. They also stand in the gap of staff shortages.

"We're always looking to hire human help. So, we're never going to say no to that first," said Shawn Fontaine, Director of Culinary Nutrition at WEL Main Line. "This just helps us with service throughout the dining room."

WEL Executive Director Mike DeStefon says the successful implementation of robots is a preview of the future of senior care.

"You're going to see a progression of these types of things in the industry that are going to push for a more efficient and streamlined way to provide service," he said.

To learn more about Wesley Enhanced Living Main Line or Richtech Robotics, visit their website.

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