GPS for dementia suffers is more than a stigmatisation…


In the news this week it was released that Sussex Police are rolling out a plan, that was trialled in Chichester, to equip dementia sufferers with a GPS tracking device, so that they can be traced quickly, and more cheaply, should they go missing.

The main crux of peoples argument against it, appears to be that this would equate dementia sufferers with criminals, effectively tagging them.

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Mindme is about the size of an electronic car key and can be worn on a belt, as a pendant, a key fob or in a pocket. It is neat, discreet and very easy to use.

According to reports in The Argus:

Sergeant Suzie Mitchell said: “The scheme is only costing Sussex Police a few hundred pounds but, comparing this to police time, resources, potential risk to the missing person, let alone the anxiety and worry for their family, it is, in my opinion, a few hundred pounds well spent.”

From personal experience, and I am not sure how this didn’t happen in the trial, the device would never leave the house.

Many times I have had to turn my mother’s flat upside down to find her keys. So that they don’t go missing, she puts them away safely, which as she has dementia she can never remember putting them away, let alone where she put them.

The same thing would happen with the GPS device. In her mind it would be far too valuable to take out with her, so she would treat the same as her keys and put it away ‘safe’. The only good thing would be that if it was attached to her keys, I may find them easier.

Whilst I am sure that the Mindme alarm would be very good in some circumstances, I’m not sure dementia is one of them, especially in my mothers case.

The only way, in my opinion, for the GPS system to work, would be a non-removable tag, or an implant. Both of which would infringe all the civil liberties that have been well stated.

The Alzheimer’s Society statement:

‘In some circumstances and when appropriate consent is given, GPS tracking can enable a person with dementia to remain independent for longer, providing them and their carer with peace of mind. But we must balance the potential advantages to the individual and the protection of a person’s civil liberties. Any tracking system must support and never replace good quality care.

‘Alzheimer’s Society understands the safety of people with dementia is an important issue to address and people with dementia and carers have told us that they welcome technology like this if used in the right way. We’re working with organisations such as the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Missing Persons Bureau to ensure people with dementia feel secure and included in their communities wherever they live.’

Personally I think they are missing the point.

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