The size and scale of the geographical footprint shared by Hampshire County Council and Hampshire Constabulary is helping to pave the way towards new solutions to protect more people living with dementia.
An innovative new pilot scheme is underway which applies the expertise of the County Council’s telecare partners, PA ArgentiTelehealthcare Partnership to support Police to search and locate elderly people who go missing from their homes each year.
The pilot sees a special device offered to people with a diagnosis of dementia who are in the middle stages of living with the condition, but who still want to remain living independently in their own homes. The personal safety device, an Oysta Pearl, contains a GPS tracker, and helps family or loved ones to locate a person quickly, if they are prone to wandering or getting lost while out and about.
Every year, police officers are asked to search for approximately 120 of the county’s most vulnerable adults who are reported missing. Many are elderly, living with some form of dementia, and get lost unintentionally. The tracker device is linked to the internet or a smartphone app which enables a person’s movements to be tracked. An alert can also be set to trigger an alarm if the person leaves their pre-set ‘safe zone’.
Commenting on the initiative, Councillor Roy Perry, Leader of Hampshire County Council, said: “The County Council’s size and scale as a large provider of public services to the whole of Hampshire means we have much in common with our partners in the Police, Fire Service and Health. Our shared priority is the wellbeing of residents across the entire county of Hampshire, and in covering the same geographical area we can make the best use of new technology to benefit all parts of the county. The County Council is in a strong position to develop really modern ways of working, and in particular, we continue to break new ground with our nationally acclaimed telecare service.
“By sharing the expertise and knowledge we have gained in working with the Argenti Partnership, we are delighted to be able to team up with the Constabulary to work together with our shared aim of keeping the county’s growing elderly population safe and well. With the numbers of elderly people over the age of 75 predicted to increase in Hampshire by 1,000 each year, in the next few years, the need for this type of pioneering collaborative project will become increasingly important. By joining forces through initiatives such as this pilot, we can help to make a positive difference.”
Hampshire Constabulary Detective Chief Inspector Dave Brown said: “Looking after someone with dementia can be a strain for a carer and can result in significant involvement with a number of different organisations. This scheme is maximising the opportunities technology presents. The assurance and peace of mind a GPS device brings for both carer and the person being cared for is invaluable, and helps promote independence for both. At the same time it provides an opportunity for the quick location of any missing person. This has been well evidenced in the pilot project and is something that we are keen to build on with partners through the wider implementation.”
Steve Carefull, Programme Director, PA Argenti Telehealthcare Partnership,said: “Hampshire County Council has been leading the way nationally in seeing the potential for telecare to support the most vulnerable people, and rolling out the service across Hampshire. As the potential for innovative technology grows so the number of technology based support services available to keep people safe and well, dramatically increases. The potential is almost limitless. We are very pleased to be working alongside the County Council and Hampshire Constabulary on this exciting new venture.”
The County Council already works closely with the Constabulary and Hampshire Fire and Rescue on a number of countywide initiatives to support elderly people. These include Hampshire Fire and Rescue providing home safety advice to County Council adult social care clients, and the Authority’s Trading Standards Service’s work with the Police to protect elderly people from financial abuse.