Around 40,000 people with dementia go missing for the first time every year in the UK.
According to research by the University of East Anglia, around 70 percent of people with dementia may go missing at least once, with some at risk of going missing multiple times. Sadly, this can have life threatening consequences.
In 2015, alongside dementia charities and support groups, we launched the Dementia Safeguarding Scheme to help safeguard vulnerable adults living with dementia.
For the past 12 months, as part of the latest element of the Scheme, free NFC (Near Field Communication) enabled wristbands have been made available to people living with dementia, which store essential information about the wearer including their name and details of next of kin.
This vital information can be can be accessed by emergency services, health professionals or community members to help return the wearer to safety should they be found whilst lost or in need of assistance.
The wristbands have been provided thanks to charitable funding* and are free of charge when a person is registered for the Herbert Protocol/Dementia Safeguarding scheme.
The passive device is not used for tracking and contains non-personal data to ensure the safety of the wearer. Anyone who has an NFC enabled phone can retrieve information from the wristband, meaning getting someone to safety doesn’t always require intervention by emergency services.
The Missing Person Dementia Safeguarding Scheme is led by Sgt. Stuart King who carries out this work in addition to his main role as a response patrol Sergeant. Since its launch, many other forces across the UK and internationally have been in touch with an interest in launching a similar service.
Stuart said: “Throughout my policing career, I’ve encountered many situations where people with dementia are lost and confused, some of which sadly ended in tragic circumstances. It’s often an upsetting experience for the lost person and whilst we try to work quickly and sensitively to get them home, it can be challenging for us to find out who they are and where they live.
“I really care about finding better ways to serve members of our community who are living with dementia whilst treating them with the compassion and dignity they deserve. Whilst this isn’t a replacement for good care, this tech is cheap and accessible, and the feedback from the past 6 years of the wider scheme alongside the 12 months that the NFC wristbands have been allocated out is that it is making a positive difference.
“In addition to offering the wearable tech, the Dementia Safeguarding Scheme also has a support group and can be found on Facebook by searching ‘Avon and Somerset Dementia Forum’. We would invite the public to visit to find out more.”
Since the NFC element of the wider Dementia Safeguarding Scheme was launched in September 2020, more than 1000 wristbands have been handed out through various groups and charities as well as through our own application process which has attracted over 316 applications on-line so far. We would love to hear from anyone they’ve helped.
If you’d be willing to share your experience with us, please contact Sgt Stuart King by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further information on the wristband initiative can be found at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-55059003
Avon and Somerset Dementia Forum on Facebook – click here
*The wristbands are available free of charge thanks to charitable funding from Bristol Dementia Action Alliance Charity, Senior Citizen Liaison Team Charity, Wessex Water, Bristol Water and Western Power Distribution.