NEW ways of managing problems involving elderly dementia patients are to be examined in the region.

Researchers from North-umbria University, Edinburgh University, the University of Ulster and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Institute have been given a grant to develop an international network to discuss the issue of dementia patients wandering.

It causes problems for carers, who are unsure if patients are safe or have wandered somewhere dangerous.

The network, funded by the Burdett Trust, is the first of its kind in the UK and will bring together, researchers, practitioners and older people to look at the issue.

Attempts to electronically tag elderly people with dementia at a Newcastle hospital a few years ago attracted criticism. Now the issue will be debated at seminars across the UK.

Doctor Heather Wilkinson, from Northumbria University and Edinburgh University, is heading 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, from the RCN Institute.

Dr Wilkinson said: "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 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."

The network plans to hold seminars across Britain, including at Newcastle, to combat the problem.