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Protecting vulnerable missing people with GPS technology in Southampton

An older couple supporting each other

NHS Southampton Clinical Commissioning Group, Southampton City Council & Hampshire Constabulary have joined forces to protect vulnerable people with dementia.

The scheme launches for people living in Southampton on July 10.  

The scheme was originally rolled out in other areas of Hampshire under Hampshire County Council’s jurisdiction. The initiative, to provide GPS tracking devices to people living with dementia, has proved to have kept people safer and will now be adopted by public protection and care services in the Southampton area. 

A special device will be considered for vulnerable and elderly 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 in Southampton.

The personal safety device, an Oysta Pearl, contains a GPS tracker, and helps family or loved ones to locate a person quickly, if they are prone to wandering or getting lost while out and about.

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

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 or a smartphone app 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 Southampton City Council area at risk of going missing as a result of living with dementia or other memory loss illnesses. It was launched widely in January 2016 following a successful pilot scheme.

Detective Chief Inspector Dave Brown from 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.

Stephanie Ramsey, Director of Quality & Integration, for the Integrated Commissioning Unit at Southampton City Council and NHS Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We’re pleased to be working with Hampshire Constabulary on a project aimed to support both people living with dementia and their families and carers. Together, we hope the use of GPS can help more people to live more independent lives.”

Statistics

  • The number of Police missing reports for the individuals that took part in the scheme have reduced from 76 reports to 34 reports.
  • There have been 40 cases successfully referred to Operation Magnet; 22 Male and 15 female ranging in age from 61 to 98 (only 37 were included in the review as three have since died).
  • Of the 37 people included 65% that went missing previously have not been reported missing to police since they were given the devices;
  • 13 have gone missing since their referral for the GPS device.
  • There were 34 missing reports for these 13 individuals in the ‘after’ category however, there were 76 missing person reports in the before category, a reduction of 55%. 
  • 24 individuals had no missing Police reports in the after category