Implementing global positioning system trackers for people with dementia who are at risk of wandering

Michael Doyle, Emmanuel S Nwofe, Clementinah Rooke, Kalyan Seelam, John Porter, David Bishop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The main aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of using a GPS tracker to mitigate the risks associated with wandering for people with dementia and those caring for them and further evaluate the impact of trackers in delaying 24-hour care and the potential for reducing the involvement of support services, such as the police, in locating patients.
We recruited forty-five wearers-carers dyads, and a GPS tracker was issued to each participant. Dyads completed pre-and post-outcome questionnaires after six months, and a use-log of experiences was maintained through monthly monitoring calls. At six months, focus groups were conducted with 14 dyads where they shared ideas and learning. Data analyses were performed on outcome questionnaires, use-log analysis, and focus groups discussion.
A 24% (N = 14) attrition rate was recorded, with 76% (N = 34) of the participants completing pre- and post-outcome questionnaires, of which 41% (N = 14) attended four focus group meetings. Participants reported enhanced independence for wearers as fewer restrictions were placed on their movements, peace of mind and reduced burden for the carers with less need to involve police or social services, and delays in 24-hour care.
The results supported the feasibility of routine implementation of GPS trackers in dementia care with clear guidance, monitoring and support to family carers on safe use. This could delay admission into 24-hour care as wearers and carers have a greater sense of safety and are better connected should help be required. Studies with larger sample sizes, diverse participants and health economic analysis are needed to develop the evidence base further ahead of the routine implementation of GPS trackers in health and social care services.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
Early online date22 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Apr 2024

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