Electronic tagging of people with dementia

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7383.281 (Published 01 February 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:281

Devices may be preferable to locked doors

  1. Kevin D Bail (bahia@jps.net), clinical supervisor
  1. Evergreen Care Network, 12040 NE 128th Street, Kirkland, WA 98034, USA
  2. Meath Hospital, Dublin 24, Republic of Ireland
  3. Information and Development Centre Ireland, St James Hospital, Dublin 8, Republic of Ireland

    EDITOR—Having spent several years in a leadership position in a progressive, culture changing nursing facility, I have seen the devices mentioned by Hughes and Louw in their editorial in use.1 I have seen that they allowed for the closing of the so called dementia unit and granted opportunity for confused residents to have freedom of the building instead of being contained and restrained. Of course, a stigma was attached to the bracelet, and people with mild dementia at times objected as they understood this stigma intuitively. On balance, however, the usage allowed more freedom of movement and more personhood than the alternatives of specialised and restrictive units.

    Hughes and Louw's call for supervision by governments is off the mark.1 The answer does not lie in increased government supervision, which by its nature appeals to the lowest common denominator and assures loss of liberty. The answer lies in adequate funding of services to the population with dementia across the myriad of living situations. If home care were supported properly the use of these devices could be lessened. If nursing homes were at all adequately staffed and funded perhaps they could be eliminated all together. No one wants to be tethered to an electric …

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