Dorset Police is working in partnership with Alzheimer’s Society, to establish ‘Safe Havens’, a local initiative which aims to make people with dementia and related conditions safe in their communities and homes.
The Safe Havens will be located in approved care homes or day centres, where anyone who is living with dementia and other related conditions can temporarily go if they are confused in public and are unable to provide sufficient information to be taken home.
Police officers or Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) will escort the individual to the Safe Haven and ensure they receive the appropriate care from staff there. The officer will only leave when all parties agree that it is in the individual’s best interest to do so.
Dorset Police and Alzheimer’s Society are looking for care homes and day centres to be part of the scheme. The locations will be open to people with dementia and other related conditions that members of the public, PCSOs or police officers have concerns about, or who have self-presented to a location such as a shop.
Alzheimer’s Society research, carried out with people who have dementia, asked participants what they felt were the biggest barriers to taking part in their local community. The research revealed that nearly 70 per cent were concerned about becoming confused and lost while in public (Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Report, 2013).
The Safe Havens project aims to address these concerns and make people who have dementia related conditions feel comfortable and assured in their local areas.
Jo Malyon, Services Manager at Alzheimer’s Society in Dorset, said: “Safe Havens are part of a wider project seeking to keep people with dementia safe, but also to improve their ability to remain independent and have choice and control over their lives.
“We want to ensure that communities across Dorset are dementia-friendly. For this, we need commitment from across the community, so it is hugely important that we can work alongside our neighbourhood police.
“According to research we carried out in 2014, 34 per cent of people with dementia did not feel a part of their community. We know this is partly because they lack confidence and are concerned they will become confused when they are out in public.
“We hope that this joint initiative will help mitigate these concerns and bring people who may feel lonely or isolated back into the community.”
Simon Thorneycroft, Mental Health Co-ordinator at Dorset Police, added: “Dorset Police is proud to be working in partnership with Alzheimer’s Society and Dorset Dementia Action Alliance.
“The Safe Havens will allow the police to provide a secure and comfortable setting for vulnerable individuals, while they make enquiries to identify them and ensure they receive the right care.
“The locations will all be voluntary and their assistance is key to making the scheme work.
“The scheme clearly demonstrates that partners working together can provide appropriate assistance of the highest standard to individuals and their families at times of great concern, which can be very distressing.”
Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Martyn Underhill, is the Chair of the PCC Mental Health Working Party. He said: “Dementia affects one in every 79 people across the country and, with an aging population in Dorset, it is vital we safeguard every member of our community, especially our most vulnerable.
“Safe Havens provide a welcoming environment for those living with dementia and other related conditions and I would encourage as many organisations as possible to support the scheme.”
Care homes or day centres who are interested in supporting the scheme should contact Alzheimer’s Society in Dorset by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 01202 764352.