Project is leading the way on dementia

Supt Mick Paterson with Jeremy Hughes, CEO of the Alzheimer's Society, and Michelle Redfern, Northumbria Police community engagement officer.
Supt Mick Paterson with Jeremy Hughes, CEO of the Alzheimer's Society, and Michelle Redfern, Northumbria Police community engagement officer.

An innovative pilot scheme designed to help people suffering from dementia has been showcased at the House of Commons.

Northumbria Police’s Superintendent Mick Paterson and community engagement officer Michelle Redfern were invited to Westminster as guests of Alzheimer’s CEO Jeremy Hughes and Speaker John Bercow.

The visit gave the opportunity for the joint initiative between Northumbria Police and the charity, working under the name Dementia Friends, to be discussed.

Chosen as a finalist in this year’s Dementia Friendly Awards in September in the Best Dementia Friendly Organisational Initiative category, the pilot scheme is up and running in Northumberland and involves officers being given specialist training to help advise them about the condition, how it can affect people, how to spot the signs of someone with it and how to handle their needs.

Officers also use information provided by family members and carers to build a picture of where someone with dementia may be likely to go if missing so that they can locate them.

The programme has been rolled out to care homes across the county, encouraging them to compile a file on each individual resident with dementia that would indicate to police where to concentrate their search if they go missing.

Supt Paterson said: “This pilot scheme is a great example of how working together with our partners can potentially save lives. Training was introduced to officers two years ago now and we believe this has helped a number of people living with dementia, enabling us to focus our resources to where they’re most needed and quickly.

“Pooling our expertise with that of the Alzheimer’s Society and care homes means we can provide the best service possible to those that are most vulnerable in Northumberland.

“I believe as a force we are leading the way with this initiative and are honoured to be shortlisted as a finalist in the Dementia Friendly Awards.”