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Balancing rights and risks: Conflicting perspectives in the management of wandering in dementia

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Dame Louise Robinson, Deborah Hutchings, Dr Lynne Corner, Dr Tracy Finch, Professor Julian Hughes, Dr Katie Brittain, Professor John Bond



Current Government recommendations in England suggest a national approach to risk management but, in an increasingly litigious society, how do professional carers balance risk management with the promotion of a person-centred approach in dementia care? Wandering behaviour can be both beneficial and harmful to a person with dementia and generate considerable emotional distress in their carers. This study combined a systematic review and qualitative research methods to explore the perspectives of different stakeholders in the management of wandering in dementia. A major theme for carers was the conflict between the prevention of harm and the facilitation of a person's right to autonomy. Such tensions also impacted on carers' abilities to provide person-centred care. This dilemma was highlighted through the use of assistive technologies such as electronic tracking devices. Interestingly, people with dementia felt that the use of such technology placed them at greater risk, i.e. as a target to theft, than the process of wandering itself. They spoke of their need for independence and their concern over carer surveillance and the identity of 'big brother.' There is a need to develop practical tools for managing risk within dementia care which allow all perspectives to be captured and risk management to be negotiated.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Robinson L, Hutchings D, Corner L, Finch T, Hughes J, Brittain K, Bond J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Health, Risk and Society

Year: 2007

Volume: 9

Issue: 4

Pages: 389-406

Print publication date: 01/12/2007

ISSN (print): 1369-8575

ISSN (electronic): 1469-8331

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/13698570701612774


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