Wandering alarm ethics

Wandering alarm ethics

When considering the ethical use of wandering alarms or any other assistive technology products with vulnerable people it may help to consider the following issues:

  • The personal motivations, perspective and preferences of the service user and their involvement in planning the introduction of equipment or alteration to existing equipment, especially where their capacity or judgement may be restricted. In particular:

    Does the person understand what the telecare is supposed to do and the options available?
    Have they agreed that they would like to try the telecare?

  • The service user's living arrangements, family support and the needs of any carer/s.

  • The degree of involvement of significant others, including family, friends, neighbours and professional care staff. Their perspective, personal fears, anxieties and agendas may need resolving.

  • The nature of their disability, for example is it progressive, or do their needs fluctuate with 'good' and 'bad' days.

  • The reliability and safety of the telecare equipment.

  • Does the situation really call for a technological solution? Are there alternatives? For example if an individual is going out and perhaps getting lost or disorientated then one approach may be a telecare door sensor, another approach may be to provide someone to walk with them. If they are going out because they are looking for social contact then this will not be resolved by the technological solution.

  • How will the usefulness of the telecare equipment and service be reviewed and evaluated?

  • What would you want for yourself in this situation?

It is important to avoid seeing individuals just as people at risk and in need of help as they are also people who have abilities, needs and wishes of their own.

For further information see the Telecare section of Living made easy.


Wey, Stephen (2007) The ethical use of assistive technology
A comprehensive guide to the ethical issues surrounding the use of assistive technology in dementia care. Contains guidelines and links to further resources.

All advice is either supported by references (cited in the text) or is based upon peer reviewed professional opinion. Our advice is impartial and not influenced by sponsors or product suppliers listed on the site.
Conflict of interest statement