Fife Council’s Telecare programme uses satellite technology to monitor people with dementia

Success in tracking dementia sufferers

A PILOT project in Fife, enabling people with dementia to enjoy more independent lives whilst at the same time giving their families peace of mind, is being hailed a major success.

For a number of months, as part of its wider Telecare programme, Fife Council’s social work service, in partnership with the region’s health service and police, has been monitoring the benefits of using satellite tracking technology to trace dementia sufferers should they become disorientated.

Five people across Fife—two in Glenrothes and the others in Gauldry, Crossford and Kirkcaldy—have now been given GPS (global positioning system) devices as part of the pilot, meaning that family members, carers and even the police can quickly pinpoint the wearer if they become lost.

The matchbox-sized sensors enable a person with early-stage dementia to get out and about with the confidence that a family member or other carer can offer assistance if needed.

Such has been the project’s success thus far, that John Honeyman, training and marketing adviser with the Fife Telecare Programme, said he hoped the technology would become more widespread and eventually become the norm.

“This is only running as a pilot but we want what we’re doing to become as routine as meals on wheels or community alarms,” he said.

“People know these terms so we want the term Telecare to be the same so people know and readily understand the benefits of it.

“The potential cost benefits are clear in that if, for example, there was an emergency situation where the police had to stand up several officers to conduct a search, that could cost them a lot of money and resources.

“But moving away from the cost side of things, in terms of the effect this illness has on the person but also their family, that’s where we’re looking to measure the impact.

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