GPS Tracker Devices: protection of privacy and the importance of informed consent
Here at CPR, we’ve made it our mission to give those living with different types of dementia and their caregivers stronger confidence in the future through innovative smart technology. The CPR Guardian Watch is a discreet and comfortable SOS watch designed to keep the wearer safe, independent and active at all times. It is an emergency alert system with a built-in emergency assist button, a heart rate monitor, mobile phone and GPS tracking.
Locator devices using GPS tracking can help individuals to manage the risks that are often associated with living independently. In the UK, an estimated 850,000 people are affected by dementia. ‘Wandering’ is known to be a common occurrence for those with a diagnosis and studies have found that up to 40% of people with dementia get lost outside their home, according to the Alzheimer’s Society website.
Locator devices, like dementia GPS trackers, present a solution. After a dementia diagnosis, people may experience a loss of confidence in their ability to live independently. A device like the Guardian Watch can help them to maintain their independence and feel safe knowing that if an accident were to happen, or they were to get lost, they would be able to receive assistance easily. The device can also help to provide caregivers and family members with some peace of mind, alerting them if something were to happen so that they could easily find their loved one and bring them home safely. Features such as the heart rate monitor, SOS button, two-way calling and geo-boundaries all help to take the guess-work out of caring for a relative with additional needs.
Whilst this technology can help to improve quality of life for those with dementia and their caregivers, it is important to recognise the need to protect civil liberties and the importance of informed consent. Every person has the right to their own privacy, and a benefit-risk approach should be used to assess locator device suitability. More often than not, the improved safety of the wearer and the freedom that it can offer outweighs any negatives. It is still important to ask the user’s permission, as long as they are capable of giving informed consent.
What you should say:
Carefully explain what the device does, and how it will help the person with dementia; be patient and repeat the information as often as necessary. If they have a recent diagnosis and don’t require a locator device right now, it is the ideal time to have a conversation about using one in the future, so that everyone’s feelings are made clear in advance. If you feel that they are incapable of making an informed decision (learn more about The Mental Capacity Act 2005) and you have power of attorney, then you must act in their best interest; if you think that the use of a locator device is needed, then that may be the right thing to do.
Read more about the CPR Guardian Watch here.