GPS trackers for Surrey dementia patients

Smart phone text alert Image copyright Surrey County Council
Image caption The GPS tracking devices trigger an alert if a user reaches a pre-set speed or goes out of a "safe" area

GPS tracking devices are to be given to people with dementia and learning difficulties in Surrey.

Surrey County Council (SCC) said the trackers could send an alert to a smart phone after they reached a pre-set speed limit or left a certain area.

The authority said it would stop people getting lost on buses and trains.

Sussex Police brought in GPS devices for dementia patients last month and defended the move amid criticisms over human rights issues.

Councillor Mel Few, SCC cabinet member for adult social care, said the GPS devices would give families reassurance.

The manufacturers said the devices offered peace of mind to relatives who were anxious about family members and also a higher level of confidence for users who could press a button for help and be found.

Location on map

SCC said the pocket-sized gadgets used satellite technology to track the person's location and speed of travel.

The devices send a text alert to a family member or carer once they reach a pre-set speed and the message includes a link to Google maps.

Image copyright Surrey County Council
Image caption The council said its testing of the speedometer was due to start shortly

They also allow a "safe" area to be set up, triggering an alert if the user goes beyond its boundaries.

The council said the Surrey Telecare Service was already trialling the use of a GPS tracker watch to be used by people with dementia, and its testing of the new GPS speedometer was due to start shortly.

About 15,000 people in Surrey - about one in 13 over-65s - have dementia.

Last month, Sussex Police brought six GPS tracking devices to help trace dementia patients in Chichester. The locators send out details of the user's location every four minutes to a careline.

The National Pensioners Convention said it raised important issues about human rights.

Sussex Police said it was not a tagging device that people used when released from prison, but rather a device to be used with the consent of the family and the individuals concerned.

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