‘Smart wristbands’ containing microchips are being rolled out in Wiltshire as a way to help find missing dementia patients.

The hi-tech wristbands, first launched in Avon and Somerset in 2015, contain a microchip that carers or family members can load with key information about the wearer.

The bands can be scanned by any smartphone without the need for an app, and all information on the chip, including name, age, next of kin details and phone numbers, will then appear on the phone screen.

According to Wiltshire Police, these wristbands could be vital in helping them find missing people with dementia.

However, officers have been quick to point out that the wristbands do not contain a GPS tracker or an alarm, and are not a replacement for calling 999.

“The purpose of the wristbands is to improve the way people with dementia are found,” explained Angharad Caton, missing persons co-ordinator for Wiltshire Police.

“Anyone who finds a person in distress or appearing lost wearing one of these new bands can help reunite that person with their carers and loved ones quickly.

“We hope, with the help of these bands, anyone who goes missing will be found quicker and returned home safely with minimal police interaction. 

“However, they are not a replacement for friends and families contacting us if a loved one goes missing and you are concerned for their welfare.

“Our officers and staff are also aware of the new bands and know what to do if they find someone wearing one.”

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: The wristbands are a collaboration between Wiltshire Police and several dementia and missing persons support charities.The wristbands are a collaboration between Wiltshire Police and several dementia and missing persons support charities. (Image: Wiltshire Police)

The wristbands are set to be distributed free of charge to those who are identified as needing them via the Wiltshire Bobby Van, Alzheimer’s Support, and Carer Support Wiltshire.

The project has also been part funded by Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Wilkinson’s Community Action Fund, with a grant of £2000 contributing towards the setup of the scheme.

“Charities like these do incredible work within communities to provide much-needed support and guidance to vulnerable people and their families to ensure those living with dementia stay safe,” said Mr Wilkinson.

“My office will continue to invest in these, and other similar partners, projects and services to show our commitment supporting the vulnerable and ultimately keeping them safe.”

Jennie Shaw, Director of the Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust, added:

"The success of the Avon and Somerset Police dementia band roll out made us realise how important it is to replicate the scheme in Wiltshire and Swindon. 

“Everybody in our county who is living with dementia and leaves their home has a better chance of being found and returned safely to their carers from today.”

To access a referral form and receive a wristband, you can go to the Wiltshire Police website and search Dementia Safeguarding Wristbands.