Helpers back Northamptonshire scheme to search for missing dementia patients

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More than 260 volunteers have already signed up to a Northamptonshire scheme to search for missing dementia patients.

Neighbourhood Return, which officially launched in the county on Friday, uses volunteers to return people with memory problems safely home if they get lost.

The lottery-funded scheme registers carers and then tries to recruit volunteers who can potentially be called upon if the person with dementia goes missing.

One of the main reasons for a dementia patient being put into a care home is constant wandering that their carer cannot cope with.

Not only is putting people in care very costly to the taxpayer or family, it is distressing to dementia patients, who thrive on familiar surroundings.

Deborah Ginns, the manager who runs the project, said: “It started off through Neighbourhood Watch schemes and it has now really taken off in Northamptonshire.

“It helps the carer feel they have a community around them to keep them home longer.

“In some places the response has been great. Gayton deserves a special mention, it seems like half the village has spontaneously signed up.”

The scheme registers details and a photograph of people with memory problems to help people looking for them. Carers are then sent a fridge magnet with the emergency telephone number.

The scheme aims to sign up significant numbers of volunteers across Northamptonshire who only need to have a mobile phone that is regularly charged and has credit on it.

The more people who are registered, the more of them will be available if someone goes missing within a mile of their home.

Mrs Ginns said: “The beauty of it is that we know people are busy and they can just say no if they aren’t able to look.

“Some people may register and never get a phone call but if you do you can possibly save someone’s life.”

“Many carers try to cope on their own and don’t ring the police straight away. We are there to help them search as soon as they realise someone is missing and then they can forget about it, unless or until someone gets lost. Think of it as a, free, local, peace of mind insurance policy.”

Both volunteers and carers can join Neighbourhood return through or by ringing 0116 229 3118.