Having a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia should not prevent people living with the condition from remaining independent and choosing how to live, whether it’s a trip to the shops, meeting friends for lunch or going for a nice walk. However, it’s not uncommon for sufferers to go missing when out and about, losing their memory, becoming disorientated and forgetting the way home.
Wracked with worry, family, friends and carers have to search for their loved ones, sometimes involving the Police. When they are finally found, often after many hours, the sufferer is usually tired, cold and distressed.
It’s a dilemma; how do you minimise the risk to sufferers whilst continuing to enjoy leading independent lives?
In an effort to combat the problem, Gloucestershire Telecare – a jointly funded service by NHS Gloucestershire Care Services and Gloucestershire County Council, has invested in 90 MySOS personal safety devices. The palm-sized units, fitted with GPS locating technology, are issued to those in their care. The users simply pop the device in their pocket, attach it to their belt or hang it from their neck when they go for a walk. Now, if they lose their way, a simple press of the buttons on the device will either connect them to Skyguard’s 24 hour manned Incident Management Centre or a dedicated pre-programmed contact, such as a carer or relative. If the user is too disorientated to call for help themselves, they can still be located; a simple text message sent to the device will pinpoint its exact location, as shown on a map, via a computer or internet-enabled mobile phone.
The benefits of the device were immediately obvious to Gloucestershire Telecare, as Jessica Murfitt – Advanced Telecare Technician explains, “After trialling a few options, we chose to purchase Skyguard devices as they could be tailored to meet the needs of our service users with dementia, Alzheimer’s and learning difficulties.”
“If the user gets lost, their family can just text the device to find out the precise location.”
“We’ve also had instances where they have needed to raise the alarm when they find themselves in an unfamiliar area and cannot remember their way home. However, Skyguard’s Controllers are always on hand to help guide and assist them whilst contacting their relatives.”
“The MySOS has helped so many of those living with the condition to continue to lead independent lives and giving their family the peace of mind that they so desperately need. They’ve described having it as ‘a big relief’ which is great.”