A scheme introduced by police in Inverurie to help trace people living with dementia who are lost, disorientated, or reported missing, has been introduced throughout the Garioch policing area.
The protocol, which has been in place in Inverurie since 2010, was developed jointly between police and the local social work dementia team.
Inverurie Sergeant Sandra Crighton said: “Over 30,000 people in Scotland go missing every year and sadly we are seeing an increase in people with dementia being reported missing, typically where a person has become confused and not returned as expected to their home or nursing home.
“It is well known that people living with dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease can suffer from loss of short term memory but can easily recall memories from decades earlier, sometimes we find that those who are reported missing are attempting to make their way to a place of previous significance to them.
“With this in mind I was keen to try to tackle this problem, and so in 2010, along with Rachael Wylie, from Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership, we devised and progressed a number of ideas to form this scheme.
“It consists of asking people living with dementia, their family members and care providers to gather vital information for use should they go missing in the future.
“If a person living with dementia was to go missing, in addition to our usual checks of family members, last sightings, hospitals etc we would also look at the list of the places held on file that the client may be attempting to revisit, which would assist us when deploying search teams.
“Additionally we have also had cases of elderly people being found in Inverurie in a confused state and not able to confirm who they are or where they live. Working with colleagues at Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership over the last few years we have offered some families the opportunity of having their loved ones details held on file at Inverurie police office, which can be accessed should the person be found in a confused state.
“We have a photo of the individual, their name plus details of their next of kin in our file and if anyone is found in Inverurie who appears to be disorientated, we can check our file and if they are in it, quickly contact next of kin.
“Typically the details of people held on file have previously been reported missing, or have already displayed behaviour that would make them at risk of becoming lost. All the details of people on file in Inverurie have been referred to us by partner agencies such as Aberdeenshire Health and Social Care Partnership and they or their families have agreed to their details being held.
“We currently have details of 20 people in our file and we’ve been required to use the file to assist return people to their homes around a dozen times in the last year.
“Having the file means that people are returned home quickly and the stress they experience of being lost is kept to a minimum. It also gives peace of mind to relatives that should their loved one become lost, that everything is being done to assist with tracing them and returning them home quickly.”