UK Wandering Network (UKWN)

An Overview




Photo by Jane Stokes


Researcher's from The University of Northumbria, The University of Edinburgh, The University of Ulster and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Institute were successful in securing a grant to develop an international network on ‘wandering’ among older people with dementia.  The Network funded by a grant from the Burdett Trust is the first of its kind in the UK and has brought together, researchers, development workers, practitioners and older people themselves to explore and debate the challenges associated with wandering and related behaviour's among older people who have dementia.

Dr Heather Wilkinson from the University of Northumbria and University of Edinburgh is spearheading the initiative with Brendan McCormack, Professor of Nursing Research at the University of Ulster and Director of Nursing Research at the Royal Group of Hospitals in Belfast and Jan Dewing, an Independent Consultant Nurse, Associate Fellow at the University of Ulster and Visiting Fellow at University of Northumbria

Professor McCormack  said “wandering behaviour among older people in health and social care settings is one of the most challenging aspects of practice and often results in restraining or containment strategies being used.  These generally have a negative impact on older people and we need to develop new ways of working that do not restrict the autonomy of older people as much”.


Dr Wilkinson  added “This is an exciting initiative that for the first time focuses on the specific issue of wandering behaviours among older people who have dementia.  The Grant from the Burdett Trust will enable us to develop a series of seminars that will bring together older people, researchers, development workers and clinicians to explore this complex issue. Our intention is to raise awareness and interest in this issue and enable person-centred and evidence based practice to be developed”.


Professor Jan Dewing , an expert in dementia care nursing and researching wandering continued “for too many years we have resorted to ineffective methods for responding to wandering such as locking doors and restricting freedom to move around. Whilst the risks associated with wandering are obvious, we know that locking doors is not the answer. We have a lot to do in this area to change values and beliefs. There is an evidence base that UK nurses can draw on and we aim to raise its profile in the UK”. 

The network continues to bring together researchers, practice based staff and older people through a series of seminars across the UK in order to develop an action plan for future action. The first seminar was held in Belfast in October 2005 and further events followed in Bristol (England), Newcastle (England) & Edinburgh (Scotland). Leading nurse researchers from the US were invited to share their knowledge on wandering.


Extra Information:

The Burdett Trust For Nursing is an independent charitable Trust named after Sir Henry Burdett KCB, the founder of the Royal National Pension Fund for Nurses (RNPFN). The Trust was set up in recognition of the foundation, philosophy and structure of the RNPFN. The Trustees aim to make grants to support the nursing

For further information about the Network contact
Dewing via e-mail
click here

« Return to Menu

This website © UK Wandering Network (UKWN) 2005-2009

This page last updated 08/01/2009 08:00