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Balancing types of knowledge: navigating the use of GPS in home care and at nursing homes

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Using surveillance technologies and especially GPS-based tracking is common in dementia care. When caring for people who are likely to wander off and easily get lost, a wearable GPS-tracker seems like a good solution. A solution that may notify relatives and carers before somebody goes too far and a solution that makes it much easier to find people with dementia once they have gone far away from their home.
However, in practice, this knowledge does not always integrate into care in smooth or wanted ways. Drawing on ethnographic observations and interviews, this paper explores some of the ways relatives and caregivers to people with dementia navigate using GPS, and especially how they negotiate roles and responsibilities - both with each other and with the technology. Here, we focus on moments of initiating GPS use and on moments where responsibilities shift, such as when a person with dementia moves into a nursing home. Using empirical ethics, we look at situations in which care givers gain new types of knowledge, learn to interpret it, and struggle to let go of roles as knowledge recipients, all in order to support good care (Pols, 2015; Thygesen and Moser, 2010).
Based on our empirical material we explore how the balancing of knowledge types in itself can be an ethical practice, which is necessary in order to use GPS in good and caring ways. In doing so, we aim to raise questions about and add nuance to ethical use of surveillance like GPS in dementia care.
Pols, J. (2015). Towards an empirical ethics in care: relations with technologies in health care. Med. Health Care Philos. 18, 81–90.
Thygesen, H., Moser, I. (2010). Technology and Good Dementia Care: An Argument for an Ethics-in-Practice Approach, in: Schillmeier, M & Doménech, M (eds) New Technologies and Emerging Spaces of Care. Ashgate, Surrey.
Original languageEnglish
Publication year2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventSymposium on Ethics, agency and personhood in dementia - Kosmopol, København K, Denmark
Duration: 17 Aug 202218 Aug 2022


ConferenceSymposium on Ethics, agency and personhood in dementia
CityKøbenhavn K
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