Police defend GPS dementia plan

Police have defended their decision to buy GPS locating devices to trace dementia patients amid calls from some elder care campaigners for their withdrawal.

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Dementia sufferer's husband praises GPS locator plan

Dementia sufferer Gill Stoneham, pictured with her husband Bernard, uses the Mindme GPS locator. Credit: PA

Bernard Stoneham signed up for the Mindme GPS locating device after his wife Gill, who has dementia, got disorientated near their home in Fishbourne, Chichester.

He says the device alerted him when his wife got lost while she was walking the couple's dog and without it "I wouldn’t have known where to look for her."

Mr Stoneham said: "If Gill gets into difficulty, she can speak to the staff through the device. They can then contact me or other nominated persons with her position.

"All I can say is how grateful I am to have had the use of this piece of hi-tech wizardry and what a difference it makes at this difficult time in our lives."

Age UK supports GPS move for dementia patients

Age UK said the smart use of technology should be "encouraged" but ideally with the consent of those involved.

Making smarter use of technology to help people manage health conditions and stay independent should be encouraged.

This can include devices that help older people suffering from dementia to continue to safely go about their daily lives.

However, it is always important to balance up individual rights and ensure technology is only used where it delivers real benefits and, in so far as possible, with the consent of people involved.

– Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK

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Alzheimer's Society: GPS must not replace good care

The Alzheimer's Society cautiously welcomed Sussex Police's plans to use GPS locating devices to trace dementia patients, but stressed that the tracking system should not replace care.

In some circumstances and when appropriate consent is given, GPS tracking can enable a person with dementia to remain independent for longer, providing them and their carer with peace of mind.

But we must balance the potential advantages to the individual and the protection of a person's civil liberties. Any tracking system must support and never replace good quality care.

Alzheimer's Society understands the safety of people with dementia is an important issue to address and people with dementia and carers have told us that they welcome technology like this if used in the right way.

– Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society

Hughes added that the society is working with organisations such as the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Missing Persons Bureau to ensure people with dementia feel secure and included in their communities wherever they live.

Police defend plans to tag dementia patients

Elderly care campaigners have branded a police force's decision to buy tracking devices for dementia patients as "completely wrong". Credit: Reuters

Police have defended their decision to buy GPS locating devices to trace dementia patients amid calls from some elder care campaigners for their withdrawal.

Sussex Police have bought six battery-powered locators as part of a bid to save money and time spent on searching for missing dementia patients.

The National Pensioners Convention described the introduction of the devices as "barbaric" and suggested sufferers could be stigmatised and made to feel like criminals.

But Sergeant Suzie Mitchell said: "The scheme is only costing Sussex Police a few hundred pounds but, comparing this to police time, resources, potential risk to the missing person, let alone the anxiety and worry for their family, it is, in my opinion, a few hundred pounds well spent."

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