TalkMeHome: an in situ evaluation of a service to guide a lost person with dementia home safely
People suffering from dementia are at risk to get lost during a walk. TalkMeHome is a new service to guide people with moderate dementia home by a care professional through the use of a GPS-enabled smartphone. The aim of this evaluation is to gain first insights into the effectiveness of this new service and the experiences of the users.
In this small-scale in situ evaluation four participants, all suffering from mild dementia, were guided home while they were observed. The conversation between the person with dementia and the care professional was recorded. Experiences of the persons with dementia were noted during a small-scale interview and questionnaires were completed by the care professionals. Results of the evaluation were discussed with the care professionals.
All participants were guided home satisfactorily, even when conditions were suboptimal. Once the connection was made, the use of a smartphone posed no specific problems for the participants. Communication was found to be good, although guiding someone home proved a demanding task for the care professionals. In the post-evaluation discussion they expressed their concern about the real-life situation in which they would have to guide somebody home who is very confused. Despite the limited extent of this evaluation we may conclude that it is possible in principle to guide lost people with dementia back home with this service. However, the technology needs further improvement. As the task of guiding somebody home appeared to be difficult, extended training facilities should be made available for care professionals.
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