12 December 2013
GPS supporting dementia care
North Somerset Therapies team has just had an outstanding
example of where using technology effectively and working smarter
can make a real difference to service users.
Using GPS technology has helped an active elderly service user
with dementia extend his independence while reducing the risk of
him coming to harm.
And the theory was put to practice the other day when the
service user disappeared and the GPS tracking device he had in his
coat pocket led him to be found quickly when he did not return from
Occupational Therapist Jill Preddy explained that the fit and
active service user had become frustrated at being dependent on his
partner for care and wanted to be able to leave his home on his
own. When out together, he would become separated from his
partner, causing anxiety and distress and he had recently been lost
for hours on holiday prompting searches by police and
Jill said that both the service user and his partner welcomed
experimenting with the use of a GPS tracker and he agreed that he
would have it in his coat pocket whenever he went out. It was
hoped the tracker would give him a degree of independence and his
partner reassurance that he would be easily found if he got
lost. So the Integrated Community Equipment Stores (Medequip)
loaned the tracker and it was linked to his partner's internet
enabled mobile phone, enabling him to be located through the use of
Google maps should the need arise.
Earlier this month, he left the house and when he did not come
back, the tracker was put to good effect, it picking up a GPS
signal locating him some distance away in a country lane. His
partner was able to drive to the destination where she found her
him in a dishevelled state wandering in the opposite direction to
Jill said: "Without use of this tracker Sam would have
been wandering in a disorientated state in the dark, would have
prompted an extensive police search, and he may not have been found
for several hours. In such conditions he could easily have
come to harm so it was really pleasing that the use of this
technology has worked and is making a real difference.
"We have about half a dozen people piloting this technology in
North Somerset and early signs are that it is proving to be an
effective support to carers"