Purpose: The study aimed to elicit a description of GPS (global positioning system) tracking use in the care of people with dementia in domestic settings and to generate hypotheses about impact.
Procedures: Users were recruited through a commercial provider. Qualitative interviews with 10 carers were completed to generate an in-depth description of how the devices were used and the perceived impact. A questionnaire was administered to ascertain sample characteristics.
Findings: Most carers preferred to use tracking as a back-up to other strategies of management, particularly supervision by a carer and locked doors. In cases where the carers perceived the risk of harm from getting lost to be low, tracking was used to preserve the independence of the person with dementia. The carers reported that tracking gave them reassurance and also enhanced the sense of independence both for themselves and for the person with dementia. The poor reliability of the device was identified as a substantial limitation.
Conclusion: Larger studies are needed to assess the safety and clinical value of GPS tracking. These should explore the views of people with dementia. Assessment tools are needed to assess suitability. Occupational therapy can play a pivotal role in this process of intervention design, assessment and evaluation.