Sir Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester is calling for a national database to help manage incidents involving people suffering from dementia. He said the police service needed to look at procedures which would ensure people with dementia get a better service.
It is estimated there are 800,000 people in the UK who are suffering from some form of dementia, and that figure is set to rise to more than one million over the next decade. As many people with dementia live in the community rather than in care homes the problems they face often impact on the country’s police forces.
“It’s a growing issue and sometimes it is because people suffering from dementia go missing, sometimes it’s because they have fallen at home and they are confused and we need to gain access on behalf of the ambulance service,” said Sir Peter.
ECINS CEO Gary Petengell said “It makes perfect sense in these cases that there should be available to authorities the facility to raise the alarm to carers and the families of elderly vulnerable people so that they are able to immediately get some background information. ECINS would create an ideal platform for a national database of this kind where agencies are able to share information in realtime and task each other to carry out interventions. Background reports, case notes and details of the person’s carers and support agencies would all be available on the system for practitioners to access and information such as behavioural patterns and historic interventions would be immediately available. A central hub where the police, emergency services and their external partners are able to securely share information such as this would enable the caring agencies to give a much better service and help the police make informed decisions on how to treat different situations.
Greater Manchester, one of the largest police forces in England, estimates that the equivalent of 400 of its 7,200 officers each year are deflected from traditional policing roles to deal with people who have mental health issues. Part of that mental health workload is related to people suffering from dementia.
“We have some people with dementia who are ringing us 30 times a day and clearly we have to take every one of those calls seriously,” said Sir Peter
In Greater Manchester, Sir Peter said dealing with people with dementia and mental health issues can deflect officers from their more traditional roles. “Often you are dealing with a complex issue involving a vulnerable person and you are struggling to get help from a medical person, and that can be a very difficult issue to solve,” he added.
“An officer can be tied up for five, six or seven hours at a hospital waiting for a proper assessment to be made or waiting for them to be found a bed – and that clearly is a huge use of police time, it affects police morale and absolutely affects our ability to do our primary job of reducing crime.”
Gary commented “Not only would a national database enable agencies to work together in a more joined up way to provide proper support to sufferers but it would go a long way to helping vulnerable people with the condition remain more independent.”