Smart wristbands launched to help find missing people with dementia
The hi-tech bands are a result of a collaboration between Wiltshire Police and its partners, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, the Wiltshire Bobby Van, Alzheimer’s Support , and Carer Support Wiltshire.
They will be distributed to those who are identified as needing them via the Wiltshire Bobby Van, Alzheimer’s Support, and Carer Support Wiltshire.
The wristbands, which were the brainchild of Avon and Somerset Police and first launched in their area in 2015, contain a micro-chip and carers or family members will load it with key information about the wearer, including their name, age, and town or village they are from as well as next of kin details like their name and phone number.
The bands can be scanned by a smart phone and the information on the chip will then be displayed on that phone. You don't need an app to scan the band. If the wearer is found by a member of the public and appears lost or vulnerable, that member of the public can scan the band and contact the noted next of kin.
The wristbands do not contain a GPS tracker, nor an alarm and are not a replacement for calling 999.
The project has been part funded by Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson’s Community Action Fund, with a grant of £2000 contributing towards the setup of the scheme.
In November, representatives from The Bobby Van Trust, Alzheimer’s Support and Carer Support Wiltshire met with Mr Wilkinson to discuss the current missing person procedures and the need to protect the vulnerable.
Mr Wilkinson said: “Charities like the Wiltshire Bobby Van, Alzheimer’s Support and Carer Support Wiltshire do incredible work within communities to provide much needed support and guidance to vulnerable people and their families to ensure those living with dementia stay safe.
“This project aligns with the work my office does with the Wiltshire Safeguarding Vulnerable People Partnership, which brings together public organisations including charities and the volunteer sector who lead services to safeguard children, young people and adults.
“The role of this partnership is to ensure services to safeguard people are as effective as possible and reflect the family and community contexts to provide effective safeguarding services within the county.
“My office will continue to invest in these, and other similar partners, projects and services to show our commitment supporting the vulnerable and ultimately keeping them safe.”
Angharad Caton, Missing Persons Co-ordinator with Wiltshire Police, said: “The purpose of the wristbands is to improve the way people with dementia are found. Anyone who finds a person in distress or appearing lost wearing one of these new bands can help reunite that person with their carers and loved ones quickly.
“We hope, with the help of these bands, anyone who goes missing will be found quicker and returned home safely with minimal police interaction. However, they are not a replacement for friends and families contacting us if a loved one goes missing and you are concerned for their welfare.
“Our officers and staff are also aware of the new bands and know what to do if they find someone wearing one.”
Jennie Shaw, Director of the Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust, said: "The Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust is delighted to be able to support this initiative.
"The success of the Avon and Somerset Police dementia band roll out made us realise how important it is to replicate the scheme in Wiltshire and Swindon. Everybody in our county who is living with dementia and leaves their home has a better chance of being found and returned safely to their carers from today.
"I want to thank Beard Construction for the initial funding which gave the Trust the opportunity to support the scheme and to all our partners. This initiative is the perfect example of businesses, charities, the OPCC and our police force working together for the benefit of our community."
Leanne Hubbard, CEO of Carer Support Wiltshire, said: “Carer Support Wiltshire are delighted to have helped produce these wristbands, which we know will bring extra peace of mind to those who are caring for someone living with dementia. Being a carer can be hard and carers not only carry out day-to-day tasks for the person they look after, but often carry a lot of worry about that person and all the ‘what ifs’.
"These wristbands, which will be offered free of charge to all the carers we support who are caring for someone living with dementia, will help reunite people quickly should the worst happen and the person they care for wanders or gets lost.”
Sarah Marriott, CEO of Alzheimer’s Support, said: ““Alzheimer’s Support was delighted to collaborate in developing and launching the Dementia Wristbands project in Wiltshire. The wristbands will give greater confidence and independence to people living with a dementia, reassurance to their carers, and support people continuing to engage in their communities.”
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