Families who have loved ones living with dementia have praised the use of trackers, which allow their relatives and emergency services to follow their movements, should they be reported missing.
The GPS trackers, which are worn on any item of clothing that someone frequently wears or is likely to have with them, have been given to 12 people in Sheffield who have dementia/Alzheimer’s.
Introduced by the Local Intervention and Falls Episodes (LIFE) Team in South Yorkshire, the devices allow emergency services, and families, to trace a person’s movements more easily, as Acting Inspector Gayle Kirby explains.
“Our aim is to support those living with dementia/Alzheimer’s and when someone is reported missing, these trackers allow us to ensure they are found as safely and as quickly as possible so that they can be reunited with their loved ones.
“I hope that this offers some comfort to those families who have loved ones living with dementia/Alzheimer’s that with the trackers, we are in a much better position to ensure their wellbeing as soon as possible.”
Dena Berry, from Sheffield, whose mum has dementia and was last reported missing earlier this month, said that the tracker had given her family ‘peace of mind.’
She said: “I don’t know what I’d do without it. It’s very simple to use, very accurate and all the family can be connected and monitor it at once, ensuring quick responses which will ultimately save police time. It has given the family peace of mind.”
Recently, Dena’s mum went missing and immediately her dad was alerted through the tracker. Dena was then able to track her, find her and bring her home before police needed to be called.
The LIFE team, made up of staff from South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, began trialling the devices in May earlier this year and are really pleased with the success they’ve had so far.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Area Manager Steve Helps, said: “This is yet another example of how the LIFE team is working together to produce meaningful outcomes for some of the most vulnerable people in society.
“We know that there are huge links between the people who need the help of the police and health services for reasons such as dementia, and those who are at risk of fire. So collaborative working such as this undoubtedly benefits our public safety work as well.”
A/Insp Kirby added: “I’m delighted that this new initiative has been successful in Sheffield, improving the quality of lives for those affected and their loved ones.
“The tracker not only alerts the user to whether the missing person is walking or using transport, but also whether they could be in distress or have fallen.
“It’s easy to use and can be used from someone’s mobile phone. I hope that it offers families reassurance that with these trackers we can find people more quickly.
““I’m really proud of the LIFE team, who have worked incredibly hard to bring this initiative to the city. Following the success of the trackers in Sheffield, our hope is that we will be able to obtain funding so that we can help more vulnerable people within the community and to help their families.”