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Tracking wristbands to monitor aged, carers

Australian dementia patients could soon be issued with tracking wristbands to monitor their movements if they go missing from aged care facilities.
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Written by Liam Tung, Contributor on

Australian dementia patients could soon be issued with tracking wristbands to monitor their movements if they go missing from aged care facilities.

Minister for Ageing, Justine Elliot, today announced the department is exploring the use of tracking wristbands to help monitor dementia patients in aged care facilities.

The tracking wristbands are being considered as a part of proposed requirements for Australia's 3,600 aged care providers to report missing patients to the Department of Health and Ageing after informing police — aged care providers previously have not been required to report missing patients. The minister hopes that by monitoring missing persons, the department will be better able to track service levels at each facility.

"This is a complex matter; it is about ensuring providers are fulfilling their duty of care to residents, while supporting residents' rights to come and go — which is part of maintaining their quality of life," Elliot said.

While Elliot hopes to implement the reporting system by the end of the year, there is no scheduled date for issuing the tracking wristbands. According to a spokesperson for the minister, no specific technologies have been assessed yet.

Chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation (APF), Roger Clarke, criticised the plans to use technology to provide care.

"I'm very concerned that this is an abandonment of human care in favour of automated care... It means we're not able to or prepared to allocate resources and treat people as people," he told ZDNet.com.au.

"It's seriously demeaning for human beings, dementia sufferers or not. There are a range of ways in which protection and management of people with aged dementia can be cared for and watched over."

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