Providing freedom to roam
A key issue that we at Connecting Communities grappled with is, who has the right to decide when a person with dementia may wear a GPS tracker. A number of issues come into play:
- People with dementia (particularly in rural areas) want freedom to roam
- Dementia families (particularly carers) need the assurance and peace of mind that the people they are caring for can be found if they lose their way while roaming
- Search and rescue organisations generally support the use of GPS trackers to assist in the task of finding people with dementia who might get lost and need to be found by emergency services
- Risk aversion is a contributing factor to people with dementia not being able to roam as they wish
After careful examination of the various issues, particularly around human rights, our Technology Task Group – comprising people affected by dementia – undertook a four month pilot from May to August 2014 using the BOB Technology GPS Tracker system. Two dementia families were involved and key to this were weekly diaries summarising the journey from both the person with dementia and the carer points of view.
As part of this work, we prepared a booklet centred around the ethical issues involved in the use of GPS tracking devices, which can be found on our Publications page.
About the GPS tracker
The GPS tracker was developed by Ostrich Care for those affected by dementia by listening and working with potential users, their family and carers, health professionals, NHS Telecare monitoring teams, and by working with police and emergency responders to implement all their needs into the journey to locate a missing person.
It is an all-in-one SOS Alarm and Personal GPS Locator monitored nationwide 24/7 365 by an NHS Trust with accredited Telecare status and direct links to Police and emergency responders.
The equipment is supplied free of charge to any person with dementia and a monthly monitoring fee is applicable.