Keeping track of dementia in Torbay

ContactCarl Beardsmore, Development Manager, Development Manager, TeleHealthCare and Commercial Activity, Torbay and Southern Devon Health and Social Care NHS Trust
Telephone01803 321125
AddressSt Edmunds CCSC, Victoria Park Road, Torquay, TQ1 3QH

This project aims to introduce portable personal safety device to transform the lives of vulnerable individuals living with dementia by giving them greater independence and providing effective personalised support, wherever they go.

Over 1.75 million people in the UK rely on a Telecare service to allow them to lead more independent lives, whilst giving loved ones the peace-of-mind that there is always someone there in an emergency. In Torbay approximately 2000 people use the Torbay Lifeline Alarm Service. In addition there are estimated to be over 5000 people living with dementia in South Devon and Torbay.

However, traditional phone-based telecare systems have their limitations, such as one-way communication, costly installation and limited for use in the home, to name a few.

Feeling compelled to walk outside is a symptom of dementia, and satellite tracking has been evidenced as a way of allowing people to remain independent for longer.

The aim is to overcome these limitations and introduce an integrated service to transform the lives of vulnerable individuals living with dementia by giving them greater independence and providing effective personalised support, wherever they go. As this solution utilises GPS technology in a portable personal safety device, it is not confined to the home, allowing the individual to wear it as a pendant, affix to belt, or attach it to a keying.

Some of the key points are:

  • GPS technology allows them to be taken anywhere – not limited to the home
  • No costly installation of bulky telecare units.
  • The personal safety alarm can be conveniently worn around the neck or on a belt etc.
  • The personal safety device can be located via an online map or mobile phone.
  • The device can call and send its location to a carer and/or Torbay Lifeline Alarm Service Centre (which is operational 24/7)
  • The response required can be tailored or triaged by the monitoring service to prevent unnecessary use of the emergency services.
  • Carers and relatives can update user’s information such as medical conditions and emergency contacts in real-time, 24/7.

Anticipated outcomes

  • Restoring  dignity, Independence and lifestyle to those living with dementia
  • Using a GPS enabled tracker will enable carers to focus more clearly on their daily life.
  • To resume some of, if not all of, the activities that people enjoyed prior to becoming ill.
  • Making it comfortable for caregivers and clients to resume a sense of normalcy to everyday living.
  • The device can ensure that when a fall or other accident occur that caregivers and family members are immediately notified and can communicate directly with a triage capable monitoring service and/or relatives, ensuring that they are alright, and if help is needed that they receive that help immediately.
  • To help prevent people with dementia from wandering into dangerous areas. GPS tracking systems have the ability to set virtual boundaries, or what is known as a “Geo-fence”. When an elderly person enters or exits the virtual boundary set by family members an alert will be sent, informing family members and or the monitoring service that the GPS system has left the predetermined “safe” area.
  • An aid to prevent people with dementia who live alone from being exposed to risks that exceed the risks encountered by people with dementia who live with others, including inadequate self-care, malnutrition, untreated medical conditions, falls, wandering from home unattended, and accidental deaths.

Progress update

The project will enable this type of service to be delivered at scale by offering it to both state-funded people as well as self-funders. The pathway once established and proven is expected to be scalable on a local to national basis.

A number of Just Checking kits (x7) were purchased in February 2013 and the service continues to be developed to include governance, procedures, specification and SLA. This enables an impartial assessment of a persons routine to aid in defining possible solutions to help them e.g. GPS Tracker

We have been building and developing partnerships with multiple agencies to achieve overall high quality service provision and to establish an end-to-end pathway.

We have tested a number of GPS products. A number proved to have reliability and performance issues but we have now finalised on a specific product.

We have undertaken a competitive tender to upgrade our monitoring centre system to accommodate this product. This has been combined with a re-location to new premises. The Centre is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2013.

We will be hosting a stakeholder update event later this year in preparation for the formal launch of the service early in the New Year.