North Somerset Therapies team has just had an outstanding example of where using technology effectively and working smarter can make a real difference to service users.
Using GPS technology has helped an active elderly service user with dementia extend his independence while reducing the risk of him coming to harm.
And the theory was put to practice the other day when the service user disappeared and the GPS tracking device he had in his coat pocket led him to be found quickly when he did not return from a walk.
Occupational Therapist Jill Preddy explained that the fit and active service user had become frustrated at being dependent on his partner for care and wanted to be able to leave his home on his own. When out together, he would become separated from his partner, causing anxiety and distress and he had recently been lost for hours on holiday prompting searches by police and coastguards.
Jill said that both the service user and his partner welcomed experimenting with the use of a GPS tracker and he agreed that he would have it in his coat pocket whenever he went out. It was hoped the tracker would give him a degree of independence and his partner reassurance that he would be easily found if he got lost. So the Integrated Community Equipment Stores (Medequip) loaned the tracker and it was linked to his partner's internet enabled mobile phone, enabling him to be located through the use of Google maps should the need arise.
Earlier this month, he left the house and when he did not come back, the tracker was put to good effect, it picking up a GPS signal locating him some distance away in a country lane. His partner was able to drive to the destination where she found her him in a dishevelled state wandering in the opposite direction to home.
Jill said: "Without use of this tracker Sam would have been wandering in a disorientated state in the dark, would have prompted an extensive police search, and he may not have been found for several hours. In such conditions he could easily have come to harm so it was really pleasing that the use of this technology has worked and is making a real difference.
"We have about half a dozen people piloting this technology in North Somerset and early signs are that it is proving to be an effective support to carers."