The lived experience of using safer walking technology - supporting meaningful occupation and identity for people with early stage dementia

  • Esmé Wood

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Introduction: Safer walking technology is increasingly being used to support people with dementia to access the outdoor environment. Through the lived experience of both people living with early-stage dementia and family carers, this research sought to understand how safer walking technology is used and its potential to maintain engagement in meaningful outdoor occupations.
Methods: This qualitative research was collaboratively designed with stakeholders including occupational therapists, people with dementia, family carers and older people with an interest in technology. Data was collected from 18 in-depth interviews across two studies. These studies were analysed using phenomenological analysis techniques.
Findings: Safer walking technology is used to maintain occupational identity and well-being for some people with dementia through enabling access to meaningful outdoor occupations. Family carers and people with dementia are likely to adopt very different forms of safer walking technology, as they use it in different ways. People with dementia who took part in this study are creating their own technology solutions. Safer walking technology appears to have a ‘useful window of time’ for most users and participants within the study
and ‘giving up’ the use of this type of technology was associated with experiences of loss.
Conclusion: The use of safer walking technology by people living with dementia and their carers to support access to outdoor environments is growing within the UK. There has been a shift away from the need to manage risks associated with outdoor spaces and an increased focus on the need to support independence and autonomy. This shift has been driven by both social policy and the needs and wishes of people living with dementia. The current range of safer walking technologies and smartphone apps rarely meets all the needs of people living
with dementia, and so people living with dementia and family carers use what is available to them in innovative ways. Safer walking technology has the potential to prolong the maintenance of a healthy lifestyle for people with early-stage dementia, supporting their occupational identity
Date of AwardNov 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University

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