Tech Talks

Tech Talks: Guardian Support Services

A Waikato carer has forged his own path to meeting the needs of other carers by providing a tracking and communication device option that sets itself apart from others on the market.

John Bennett became a carer to his wife Nikki when at age 60, she was diagnosed with a rare form of dementia. At this stage he was still working full time and concerned about her safety.

The idea that she could go missing was stressful, so it was a priority for him to have a product that gave him piece-of-mind.

John had a background in procurement, so he set about sourcing overseas products.

“I went through a lot that didn’t work in New Zealand or Nikki wouldn’t wear.” He wanted to be able to track her himself, as opposed to phoning a contact center for information. The ones that made the grade are now available through his non-profit organisation Guardian Support Services.

John and a few other volunteers work to provide a pre-programmed watch, pendant or vehicle GPS to help whanau stay connected. When family make a call, the device will automatically answer allowing communication with the wearer.

Multiple numbers are able to be programmed into the device so that when the SOS is pressed, the device will start calling through the list. If there is no answer from the first contact, the next contact is called. If no one answers after the first round of numbers, the sequence will be repeated until a contact is reached.

Watches have a lockable strap and are waterproof for up to an hour. All products come with round the clock technical support.

John says because his venture is non-profit, the products are able to be offered at around half the cost of others on the market.

The recent changes to the Te Whatu Ora Support Subsidy mean carers can now use some of the allocated respite days to purchase an annual subscription for one of the LifeGuard devices. The current guidelines would use 8 to 9 of the respite days on an annual basis.

John says he is thrilled with the feedback received so far.

“We are dedicated to doing everything possible to simplify life for both the caregiver and their loved one.”

For details, please visit or call 027 4894 380.

This article was originally published in Our Mind Matters Magazine Issue #40.

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