GPS helps Warwickshire dementia patients

healthcare IT

Dementia patients are getting some high-tech help in Warwickshire, as the council is offering a GPS system to help carers keep track of them.

The trial which the council has said is the first in the country lets carers monitor patients movements. A "mini-tracker" device is hooked up to the person's clothing by careworkers each day. The GPS signal can be monitored online, giving "peace of mind" to sufferers families, the council said.

One of the first families to sign up for the trial were trying to find a way to deal with their 71-year-old father's tendency to wander off, leaving family or the police to track him down.

The son, named only as Pete, said: "Five months ago we were in a position where we felt that we could no longer cope. Dad always loved to take the dog for long walks but he started getting lost in other parts of town. It's a particular trait for people with dementia to keep moving; it's as if they are walking away from the problem."

Pete said: "I felt really torn and thought the only way forward would be to give up my job or to consider a residential home for dad."

While many would balk at wearing tracking tech, Pete explained: "We talked to Dad about the GPS and he is happy to be wearing it because he feels that he is being looked after even if we are not there. It means he can go for walks or stay at home without being wrapped up in cotton wool. It has been like a breath of fresh air for dad and it has given us better peace of mind."

The GPS tracking system is just one aspect of telecare which the council uses, alongside fall detectors and emergency helpline pendants.