Minister praises scheme to keep vulnerable safe
A scheme developed by police to help protect people with dementia and learning disabilities has won praise from Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The accolade for the Keep Safe initiative came as the Government announced a new programme, Dementia Friends, to help change the way communities think about the condition.
The scheme will give free coaching sessions on how to spot the signs of dementia and provide support.
Other measures include more cash for research, a fund to adapt wards and care home spaces to improve treatment and school and youth projects to help young people understand more about the condition.
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Mr Hunt said: "We know people can continue to live well at home with dementia once they have been diagnosed.
"But, shockingly, recent research by the Alzheimer's Society showed that as many as 67 per cent of people with dementia say they often do not feel part of their community.
"We want to create more dementia-friendly communities.
"There is already great work going on in Leicestershire, where the police have developed a Keep Safe scheme for vulnerable people, including those with dementia. I want to see more communities coming together in the way that people in Leicestershire already have.
"It is my ambition for England to be among the best places in Europe in which to grow old."
Keep Safe was introduced 18 months ago as a way of helping people with hearing problems and learning difficulties.
It comprises a card – smaller than a credit card – which contains personal details, the contact name and number of a relative, carer or next of kin and other relevant information, such as whether the person has a communication problem.
It has now been adapted and extended to include those suffering from dementia.
Chief Inspector Richard Keenan, who was involved in setting up the scheme, said: "The idea is that if someone is out in public and needs help they can go to a police officer.
"I was a single carer for five years for my father who had dementia and I would have felt so much easier if he had had one of these cards when he was out."
A network of 117 shops and libraries across the county have joined the scheme to act a safe haven for someone who might be in trouble.
Chief Insp Keenan said: "Each has the Keep Safe logo and the idea is that a person who might be in need of help can go into the outlet and they will be kept safe until help is contacted.
"This might be contacting a relative or arranging for medical help."