Palaszczuk Government and Alzheimer’s Australia (Qld) to make sure our loved ones get Safely Home
BRISBANE, 15 April 2015: The Palaszczuk Government has partnered with Alzheimer’s Australia (Qld) to launch an initiative to help ensure Queenslanders living with dementia who go missing are able to get home safely.
Police Minister Jo-Ann Miller joined Alzheimer’s Australia (Qld) Chief Executive Officer Victoria Beedle to launch the Safely Home program, which will help police and members of the community reunite a missing person with their loved ones faster.
Minister Miller said the new bracelets were a joint initiative of the Queensland Police Service and Alzheimer’s Australia (Qld) and could be worn by people with dementia who are at risk of wandering and becoming disoriented or lost.
“The Safely Home bracelets are engraved with a unique identifying code which links directly to a database that can be accessed by police at all times, from any location,” Minister Miller said.
“This means police are able to reunite people with their loved ones faster and it also allows members of the public to lend a helping hand.
“If you see someone who looks lost or disoriented and is wearing one of these bracelets, you can contact PoliceLink – the non-urgent number for the QPS - by calling 131 444, which is engraved on it.”
Ms Beedle said wandering is quite common amongst people with dementia which makes them an increased risk of becoming a missing person.
"Caring for a person with dementia is a huge responsibility, and when they go missing it can be incredibly distressing, especially if the person you're caring for is a loved one," Ms Beedle said.
"If your partner, parent or grandparent has dementia and you are worried about them wandering and becoming lost, please register with the Safely Home program.
"I also encourage members of the public to look out for the Safely Home bracelets on people's wrists. Just like a medical bracelet, it contains vital information that could mean the difference between a happy and tragic outcome for a person and their loved ones.
"It is our fervent hope that the introduction of the Safely Home initiative will help to do just that - to bring Queenslanders with dementia safely home," she said.
Brisbane resident Alan Gibson, whose wife Pat was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease eight years ago, was the first person to register with Safely Home.
"Pat has a history of wandering, and it is very frightening. The Safely Home program gives me added peace of mind,” Mr Gibson said.
“I know that if Pat goes missing, all of her vital information is already registered with the police so they can start searching for her immediately.”
State Crime Command Assistant Commissioner Gayle Hogan said on average, there are 18 new reports of missing people across Queensland every day.
“Of the 6,700 missing people reported to police each year, over 300 are older people or people living with dementia,” Assistant Commissioner Hogan said.
“While we find 99.7% of those who go missing, there are still some cases that end tragically.
“We estimate that for every one person who goes missing in Queensland, 12 people – such as family and friends - are affected by these cases.
“This is a terribly traumatic time for a family and a situation we are committed preventing wherever possible.”
"We would also encourage family members who believe their loved one is at risk to keep regular contact with them.
“Physically checking in on your loved one is always going to be the first line of prevention.”
The bracelets will be available at no cost to people with a diagnosis of dementia through Dementia Australia (Qld).
The bracelet has a concealed clasp, to prevent the wearer inadvertently removing it.
Dementia is the term used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses, which cause a progressive decline in a person's mental functioning. It is a broad term, which describes a loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and normal emotional reactions.
Anyone with information regarding the location of a missing person is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Click here to watch the media conference and find out how Safely Home will bring peace of mind to people living with dementia, their loved ones and their carers.
For more information call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.