Pendants keeping wanderers on track


A $17,250 grant from the Rotorua Trust is helping to fund a “WanderSearch” programme to help keep track of Rotorua people wandering off from their places of residence.

New Zealand is the fourteenth fastest growing country in the world for dementia, with more than 50,000 New Zealanders affected in 2014 but only 60 per cent of cases being diagnosed.

This means there are potentially 40 per cent more people who are living with the disease and not receiving the appropriate help and care. Land Search and Rescue Rotorua (LandSAR) run the WanderSearch scheme, working alongside Rotorua Police and Alzheimers Rotorua.

LandSAR Funding Officer, Belinda Yabsley says the funding was used to help purchase an additional 50 new pendants and refurbish 100 existing pendants, providing patients with comfort that they will be returned to a safe environment and to their families should they wander from their surrounds.

The team identifies patients in need of WanderSearch pendants who are living with dementia and other cognitive impairments. Parents of youngsters with conditions such as autism are also taking advantage of this aspect of the scheme.

Once a pendant tracking device is turned on, it emits an electronic pulse every three seconds. When a person goes missing and a search starts, a receiving unit is sent towards the person’s last known location to locate the pulse (as pictured).

When Search and Rescue personnel locate the pulse, they can fix the location of the pulse to narrow down the search field. Although many pendants are provided to rest home residents suffering dementia, those suffering with Alzheimer’s disease may also reside with their family.

The five-kilometre range of the pulse means it is a faster, easier method for the NZ Police or Search and Rescue personnel to locate missing people and return them to a safe environment.
The speed at which people wearing these pendants can be located when they go missing provides great comfort for carers and families.

Rotorua currently has the highest per capita number of Alzheimer’s patients wearing the pendant with an ever increasing demand.

Belinda says “without the support and generosity from the Rotorua Trust, we would be limited in our capabilities to continue the great work and success we have been having across the Rotorua District over the past five years with the WanderSearch programme locating missing persons and wanderers.”

Detective Sergeant
John Wilson at
Police Station

Back to top