In recent years, a range of gadgets and technology solutions known as Safer Walking Technology has been developed. These new tools are designed to track, find, support and safeguard individuals with dementia when accessing the outdoors.

The use of the technology (including GPS trackers, and location-based mobile phone apps) has the potential to help some people with dementia to have greater freedom and independence.

We caught up with Esme Wood, Chief Investigator of the Safer Walking Technology study.

What are the main aims of the study?

Safer Walking

Esme Wood, Chief Investigator of the Safer Walking Technology study

This research focuses on understanding how and why safer walking technology is being used already. Particularly, the study aims to understand how this technology might help people with dementia and the potential impact that accessing outdoor natural environments has to their health and well-being. At the same time, it will explore issues of risk management and the promotion of independence, both ideas associated with the use of safer walking technology.

What does it involve for a participant?

We are seeking to hold a one-off interview people with dementia as well as carers of people with dementia about their experiences. This is to understand the experiences of each individual in depth. Interviews will last between 40 minutes to 2 hours and can be conducted in the participant’s home or a location of their choosing.

The interviews will be recorded, written up, anonymised and analysed individually.

 What do you hope the outcomes of the study will be?

This is a small-scale research study to explore the experiences of people with dementia and carers of people with dementia who have used this type of technology.

We will publish the findings of this study in peer-reviewed open-access journals and the results will also be presented at national/international meetings and conferences.

Where is the study based?

The study is based at Coventry University and will be open for recruitment up to the end of May.

Who can take part? (eligibility criteria)

The research project intends to conduct interviews with people with dementia (in the early stages), as well as their carers. It is essential that all participants have previous experience of using or supporting a person to use a form of safer walking technology.

To take part you must already have experience of using some form of GPS tracking/ locating device, such as a ‘Buddy System’ or ‘Google Maps’ app on your phone. For those participants with dementia, they must be in the early stages and will be required to undertake a brief capacity assessment to ensure they can provide informed consent to the study.

For more information, watch this video about the study.