Thursday, 15 December 2011

Wondering about wandering

Wondering about wandering

It is a while ago (2008) that I proposed the enablement/containment models as part of the Dependability Telecare Assessment tool (DTA) (http://www.smartthinking.ukideas.com/telecare.html and http://thetelecareblog.blogspot.com/2008/09/enablement-and-containment-models.html) in which I proposed that technology should enable people not contain them. So, 4 years on, I now turn my attention to those who have supposedly been enabled.

In the UK, there are a range of safeguarding structures in place to enable and ensure that a person has basic human rights and the ability to live an unfettered life. Locking the door on a demented family member was the option of a bygone age whereas today people are faced with the difficulty of ensuring the safety of a person who does not have capacity.

From a telecare perspective, there is a range of devices that are on the market that provide one or more of these four features:
1) to alert someone in the house of a person wandering
2) to alert a call centre when someone wanders
3) GPS based bespoke devices that can map where a wandering person is (as long as it is charged and with the person)
4) mobile phone based GPS/GSM systems that provide mapping and voice communication.

So, I am wondering, which is used today and which actually work effectively?

I recall, when I was working in a London Borough, that alerts to a family member in a house were the most effective, followed closely by the alerts to a call centre. But what is being used now and are they really effective?

I recall the problem with GPS tracking devices was that they required regular or daily charging and from what I can see this is still the case. Is their use limited to people who have family close by who are prepared to charge the devices? Additionally, you have to have the foresight to put it into a coat pocket or handbag so the person has it with them when they decide to wander. However, most people highlighted in assessment I did in London, were wandering at night partially clothed.

This means that through the safeguarding and enabling initiatives that have happened people who wander, be they older, younger or middle aged are left with few realistic alternatives. So how does this play out in the real world?


Enabling Who? - The real questions
Are friends and families put under more stress and strain to covertly contain their loved ones by locking them in and not telling anyone about it?

Are friends and families put under more stress and strain by providing their own 24-hour watch of the loved one?

Are families reliant on the telecare alert directly to them so they can drop everything and go looking for the missing person.

Has the responsibility for locating missing people been delegated to emergency organisations such as the ambulance or police services?

Has the responsibility fallen on social services to provide more care and assistance to the people who wander without friends or families?

I wonder, are the wanderers left to wander, and only after they have wandered several times with potentially dangerous consequences, are they then forced into a more contained environment where they cannot wander?

In the news, there is talk of tagging people with GPS type devices or ensuring that it is difficult for people to leave a property without actually stopping them. Both have drawbacks, the former being that this might not be consensual or hard to get agreement from families, and the latter might appear the best solution until the house is on fire and the occupant cannot get out.

I wonder is there another solution?

I wonder what is happening in the real world?

Is enablement the new containment?

Is telecare colluding in this containment in any way?
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