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The Prime Ministers Rural Dementia Awareness Team


On Monday 14 December 2015, the team met in the House of Commons with the sponsorship of Oliver Colville and his office.


The group has been going for over 2 years now and the work that they have done has advanced over that time.  The 2 key things that were discussed, along with the general progress of the group, was a framework and the GPS trackers.


The GPS trackers is the work that I have been most closely involved.  Colin Sturmer from Dartmoor Search and Rescue talked about the trial that was undertaken in November, when Ian Sherriff & I got “lost” and role played someone with a dementia.  The feedback was that even if someone takes a device off, it shows where they have been.  Without a GPS tracker, Dartmoor Search and Rescue (and no doubt other Rescue teams) can be given a 10 mile square area to search, with them, they have around a few hundred yards to search.  When teams of rescuers go out, depending on the weather conditions, they can search for 6-8 hours and then another team has to come and take over.  Their search is methodical and planned.  Colin explained that it is not at all uncommon for someone to be found during the time of the relief team and not during that first 6-8 hours.  With a GPS tracker, that time is reduced down to about 20-30 minutes.  That time difference means a lot to someone out in poor weather conditions.  A huge number of their searches are for people with a cognitive impairment, who can be difficult to find, as they often don’t know that they are lost!  Colin’s overall respond to the experiment with GPS trackers “there is no down side” (other than of course the cost).


So now the work can begin to raise awareness of the use of GPS trackers in the hope that people with a dementia will choose to use them.  We can also look to see if this should be included as a form of social care or social prescribing, but in order for that to happen, there will have to be some cost analysis and research done into this subject.


The other part of the meeting was taken up discussing a framework/protocol/covenant/best practise.  There was quite a bit of discussion about what it should be called, as the words have implications and the group will have to consider the implications of the word that they finally choose.  However it should be a summary of the work done to date by the group, which should form a document of best practise, which communities can adopt.  Different communities will need different regimes and it should not put off hard to reach groups.  So anything standardised, monitored and governed is likely to reach groups that are already engaged.  There will be a simple set of “wishes” of things to be achieved, which is expanded upon in more detail and the final level of this will be the research that has been done.  It will take careful thought to make this happen and bring it to a meaningful reality that will make a real different to those living with dementia and there are very passionate people involved in this group that will work hard to make this happen.


The future is very exciting and it is getting better for people living with dementia and their carers.  I’m proud to be part of this team.