GPS for dementia patients…. Right or wrong?

Sussex Police have purchased six GPS devices to assist with helping track missing persons with dementia. This has mixed reviews. The National Pensioners Convention described the introduction of the devices as “barbaric” and suggested people could be stigmatised and made to feel like criminals.
Dot Gibson, the pensioners convention general secretary, said: “I think they should withdraw it straight away. Trying to equate somebody who has committed a criminal act with somebody who is suffering dementia is completely wrong. I doubt whether anyone in the cabinet would want their parents dealt with in this way if they were suffering from dementia.” If it meant the difference between them being found safe then I believe anyone would. It’s not equating them to a criminal, it’s about community safety.

Gibson accused the authorities of “trying to get care on the cheap”, adding: “It looks at the problem in the wrong way. If you’ve got people in the community who are so bad that they are wandering off at night and are not safe, they should be properly cared for; they shouldn’t be tagged.” I agree, proper care should be in place but you cannot watch them 24/7 and are they supposed to be prisoners in their own homes, with families having no life either? Dementia patients are well cared for but there are times when people are able to ‘slip out’ unnoticed, just as with any person.

This method is already being used, so why now the hoo ha? Because the Police have used the idea and being tagged as ‘policing on the cheap’. If the local Health authority had issued them would she make such comments? As I said, they are already being used and I don’t recall any huge public outcry up to now….

Police aren’t just there as criminal catchers but to help our communities in lots of different ways. We are there to help victims of crime, care in the community, health care amongst other things. Someone has to take responsibility, and so if the Police take the initiative so what? And Yes, it does save money and resources, enabling officers to be free for other emergencies too, but surely the main issue is safety of the person who is missing.

Why would someone feel like a criminal? This is about helping our communities. We mop up a lot of issues that aren’t dealt with by other agencies.

Lets look at the wider picture. You have a report of a person who has dementia who has wandered off. Where to start. A frantic call from the family, worried sick because their family member is missing. All available officers start looking, descriptions put out, helicopter, dogs, all out looking. Family sick with worry. Time goes on, it may be night time, winter, they could have other serious medical conditions, no danger awareness due to their illness. A high risk missing person.
Finding them on the tracker within minutes, or still looking for them hours later? Not a difficult choice I would suggest.

What is the difference between a private company or NHS using them to the police? If we can find someone in minutes rather than hours then surely this has to be a good thing regardless of who issues the trackers. The difference is its because the Police are using them.

Gibson said “It’s a crude form of monitoring when the issue needs a much more detailed response than this. This is a back-of-an-envelope response.” How would she suggest it be dealt with? Perhaps ‘chipping’? Then authorities would be accused of treating people like ‘animals’. Locking them indoors? Tying them to their carer with string?
Mistakes happen and people can wander off. It’s how to deal with it when they do in the most efficient and safe way possible.

Eileen Lintill of Chichester district council said: “Hundreds of thousands of people across the country have dementia. This solution gives both those with dementia and their families the confidence and reassurance they need.”

“The latest model also allows customers to speak to us directly by pressing a button. This can be used by anyone who wants to maintain their independence, but have the reassurance that someone is always around to help them.”

I agree. Anyone who has had contact with Police, other than criminals, know that on the whole we are trying to help our communities and keep them safe.

So lets get rid of the idea that we are only dealing with criminals and treat everyone like they are, let’s forget who gives out the trackers, lets concentrate on the fact that we are trying to keep people SAFE.


6 Responses to “GPS for dementia patients…. Right or wrong?”
  1. Angela Watson says:

    When my mother was first diagnosed with Alz, her first words were “Can you micro chip me” Why ? The cat had one. The actual reason was the fear of wandering off , not being found in time to save her from injury or death. As had happened to a friend. Had GPS in any shape or form been offered, mom would have agreed it. A Gps system will enable individuals to remain in their homes and utilise the communties that they feel safe in, as you said reworry No it is not . For Goomm

    • Angela Watson says:

      Sorry re error , The system would aleviate stress and anxiety for individual and carers. No it wull not prevent, falls, injury or worse but it would go a long way to ensure that an individual is found and returnef ti safety.
      For most use of any device would be short term . As the Alz progresses, the wandering , eventualy stops.
      Its far from barbaric and as DG knows the care system is failing across the board and provides few safety nets.

    • Thank you for your reply. I am miffed why anyone wouldn’t want help in finding their loved ones quickly- do you think it’s the stigma of ‘police’ and would you see it as ‘policing on the cheap’?

  2. grrr says:

    Sadly any scheme to help people that involves ‘The Police’ is a red rag to all sorts of rabid nutters. And gives the slightly tattier end of the media a hook to hang a story on. They just pick the quote that will sell the most papers.

    There is a more considered view at:

    The AltzSoc view is more restrained but positive:

    stigma of ‘police’? Only within certain disproportionally vocal sections of the public, the majority will either support it or not have a view either way.

    ‘policing on the cheap’? Well taken at face value it is, though most of the public have no idea how much it costs to mount a search for a misper. If they only knew the truth.

    But that would miss the much bigger point, the police only become involved when every other safeguarding measure has failed. There is a cascade of events and the police are the last hope.

    The technology will become common place in time, like the neck pendent that a person can press if they need help when at home. I’m sure in less than a decade it will be possible to download an ‘app’ called ‘Where is Grandma?’ from the AppStore.

    (I remember there was exactly the same uproar 10+ years ago, when a similar service was offered to let parents find out where their children were by triangulating the location of the childs phone.

    But now it’s used by muppets, who can’t seem to do simple things like keep hold of their Iphone/Ipad when they go out of the house.)

    • I agree – it’ll be just part of life in the next decade…. And yes it is cheaper, as high risk mister searching is thousands, but if its cheaper and quicker then their point is? Common sense prevails, but as I said, police do it then must be cheap policing, not tat we care and want to find them safe and well quicker. *sigh*

    • *thinks new app is great*

      Perhaps also *track your muppet* might be a good one…..

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