PEOPLE living with dementia are being kept safer thanks to a GPS tracking device scheme by Hampshire County Council, Hampshire Constabulary and the PA Consulting Group-led Argenti Care Technology Partnership.

The number of missing person episodes for the people taking part has more than halved. Some 65 per cent of those people have not been reported missing to police since being given the device.

A special device is 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 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 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’.

The scheme is available to people living in the county council area who are at risk of going missing as a result of living with dementia or other memory loss illnesses. It was launched widely in January, following a successful pilot scheme.

DCI Dave Brown, of Hampshire Constabulary, said: “The review of the first year of this scheme shows that it can have a positive impact to people living with dementia. This technology is enabling independence and giving carers peace of mind. It also helps us to quickly locate a missing person, who could be at real risk.”

County council leader Roy Perry said: “As the world of technology moves forward rapidly, we want to ensure that in Hampshire, we are embracing the significant opportunities that it brings, to support people to live well and stay safe.

“This scheme is an excellent example of how new innovations and partnerships are helping to support Hampshire’s growing elderly population. By sharing the expertise and knowledge we have gained through this project, together with our work with the PA Consulting Group-led Argenti Partnership on our nationally acclaimed telecare service, we have been able to support many thousands of elderly people to continue to live independently in their own homes.”

Steve Carefull, assistive technology expert at PA Consulting Group and Argenti Telehealthcare Partnership Programme Director, 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, 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.”