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Skyguard’s GPS Alarms Feature on BBC News

Living with Dementia

Skyguard’s personal safety service was featured on BBC News on Monday 13th October 2014 as the focus of a report into a pioneering scheme to help dementia patients lead more independent lives.

The report looked into the growing use of GPS tracking alarms for those with dementia who are looking to keep their independence.

The news story, featured on BBC South Today asked “Would you put a GPS tracking device on a loved one with dementia?”

Across the South, many are doing just that. Dementia affects nearly 750,000 people, leaving them with memory loss and difficulties with thinking and there’s a large financial cost too… over £17 billion nationally. However, family carers of people with dementia saved the UK £6 billion a year.

The report highlighted a scheme that already helps dementia patients in the South stay at home for longer. Skyguard’s MySOS device, with GPS tracking technology has already helped save so many lives, it’s being introduced across the whole region.

The news piece featured Ray Miners – a dementia patient who hasn’t been allowed out of his house alone for three years. The piece showed Ray with the keyfob-sized MySOS alarm, talking to a Controller at Skyguard’s 24/7 Incident Management Centre via the two-way audio communications within the device.

The palm-sized units, fitted with GPS locating technology, are issued to those suffering with dementia, Alzheimer’s or similar conditions. 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. 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.

Julia Lury, Occupational Therapist for Southern Health commented upon the scheme “I think it’s quite an inspirational thing having this sort of equipment. The aim is to introduce the equipment earlier and to keep people at home for longer.”

The report stated that 50% of those who go missing will be injured or die unless they’re found within 24 hours. For police, it can mean a major search operation and the cost of a person going missing can be between £1,200 and £3,500 each time.

Sergeant Suzy Mitchell of Chichester Police spoke of the extent of search operations “If it goes on, we’ll have the helicopters, the dogs… we’ll ask for search and rescue volunteer organisations. We’ll call them out to help assist with searching.

“It is massive. We all want the same thing; we want that person home and safe.”

Shown out for a walk on his own wearing the MySOS device around his neck on a lanyard, Ray Miners summed it all up, “This is brilliant. I can press this button if I fall over. I press the button and [Skyguard’s Controllers] can tell me which way to go. Not only that, they can phone the wife and she can come and meet me half way… it’s brilliant.

Skyguard Director Will Murray added “GPS technology is helping to transform lives of not only those with dementia or Alzheimer’s, but those of their loved ones too. It provides real peace of mind.

“Skyguard already work with a number of local authorities across the nation to provide a similar service as seen in the BBC report. We see first-hand how the MySOS device brings normality to those living with the condition. It gives patients a sense of real independence knowing that, should they get lost, they can be found at the press of a button.”

You can find out more about Skyguard’s GPS tracking for dementia patients here or read how Gloucestershire Telecare and Havering Council utilise Skyguard’s service.