Holly Newman, Telecare team manager for Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust which manages the service, said: “We’re working in partnership with Gloucestershire County Council to trial GPS for people who are still able to go out in their local community, but who may have difficulty finding their way home, or who are vulnerable when in certain areas.”
She added: “So far, we have ten people trying out the device, but we’re looking for another thirty people who are willing to be involved in a six-month trial.”
Betty and Leslie Smith from Staverton near Cheltenham have experienced first-hand the benefits of the GPS device.
Mrs Smith explained: “My husband Leslie has memory loss and occasionally he goes missing. At times, this has caused him great distress. We live in a rural area, and I am not able to drive so we rely on my daughter-in-law for help when this happens.”
“Having the device is a big relief – if my husband goes missing, I know we can find him really easily. I can call my daughter-in-law, who is able to see where Leslie is on her mobile phone and locate him immediately. It is less stressful for my daughter-in-law too as, instead of driving around looking for my husband, or having to report him as missing to the police, she can now go straight to where he is and bring him home.”
Holly Newman commented: “GPS devices are being used successfully in many areas of the UK to support vulnerable people. The benefits include greater independence for the person carrying the GPS device, and families and carers say they feel less anxious and worried, as they have the ability to locate their loved one easily if there are concerns that they are missing. All our feedback from the trial so far has been positive, and we are really keen to increase the number of people involved.”
The devices being tested by the Telecare service in Gloucestershire are small and discreet as Holly Newman explained: “We are currently trialling two different devices – one that can be attached to a key ring or similar, and one that is the size of a small mobile phone to carry in a pocket or bag. GPS devices are not suitable for everyone, so we will make a careful assessment of a person’s needs before recommending they join our trial.”
The device will be available to the wearer free of charge and the Telecare team will be in regular contact with them and their family or carer to complete the evaluation during the trial period. Those taking part in the trial will need to have a family member or a friend who is willing to access their location as needed, via a website, monitoring centre or on a smart phone.
To find out more about the GPS trial on behalf of a friend or family member, please contact Gloucestershire County Council’s Adult Helpdesk: 01452 426868.
More about Gloucestershire’s Telecare service
Telecare supports people to maintain their independence, and also promotes safety and reduced risk within peoples own homes. This is done by providing equipment – referred to as assistive technology – which can be divided into two main types: linked equipment & standalone equipment. Linked equipment will alert a monitoring centre that there may be a problem and that assistance is required. Standalone equipment is not connected to a monitoring centre but allows risks to be managed within the home.
Currently, the county’s Telecare service provides ‘assistive technology’ support to more than 1750 people.
The Telecare service is funded jointly by Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust and Gloucestershire County Council, and managed by the Trust.
About GPS devices
*GPS stands for ‘Global Positioning System’.
A GPS device may be used to support someone who has a history of walking out unsafely, or who may currently require the help of another person to go out but may be able to go independently with the support of a GPS device. If the wearer does not return when they are expected or become lost, then they can either call for help by pressing a button on the device, or they can be located through the GPS system on the device. The location can be obtained in some cases by texting the device, by calling the control centre or by logging onto the internet to locate the device