Pendants to keep tabs on patients
THE families of two Palmerston North dementia sufferers who drowned are pleased at a new tracking device being launched in the city, but say it will work only if caregivers are vigilant.
Brian Gifford-Moore, the brother-in-law of dementia sufferer Andrew Hodge, 76, who drowned in the Manawatu River after wandering from the Brightwater rest home in Palmerston North last February, said the devices would save lives, but caregivers would have to notify police immediately.
“Police were not told Andrew had wandered off until an hour later. It was that hour that cost Andrew his life. If he had had a tracking pendant and the authorities were notiﬁed immediately, he wouldn’t have died,” Mr Gifford-Moore said.
Working with police search and rescue and the Manawatu Alzheimers Society, the Red Cross has bought the new Sircare tracking system which includes a $10,000 VHF receiver and 20 tracking pendants for about $300 each. The pendants can be worn on watch straps or necklaces. Red Cross regional manager David Neal said the pendants will be given to the most “high-risk” dementia patients in Palmerston North, but he expected more pendants would be bought and the service rolled out across other centres in Manawatu.
When it is discovered that a person has wandered, the Red Cross emergency response unit would drive around with the mobile receiver – which has a range of more than two kilometres – plotting their direction.
International research shows a person with a pendant can usually be found within 20 minutes.
Vanya Alexander did not learn her husband Jim, 73, was missing from the Radius Peppertree rest home on June 15 last year till ﬁve hours after he went missing,
After a fruitless search, a tip from a psychic led police to a part of the Manawatu River where some of Mr Alexander’s belongings were found, but his body was not recovered till August, washed up at Pukerua Bay, north of Wellington.