Health experts in Doncaster are to discuss whether to put signs on dementia patients’ homes alerting people to their condition.
The issue was raised at a meeting of the Doncaster Health and Wellbeing board yesterday, after members expressed concerns about those who suffer with the disease living alone.
Coun Cynthia Ransome, who suggested the signs, said: “Patients are vulnerable.
“Could the fire brigade have a record of people diagnosed with dementia, for example?”
Her comments came during a discussion about helping dementia sufferers to live independently, while also providing them with an appropriate level of care and support.
Wayne Goddard, a Doncaster dementia expert and author of a report on the town’s dementia performance, said shared data with other professionals, such as the police and fire service, was a possibility in future.
But Dr Nick Tupper, a borough GP, said he was concerned this would have a negative, rather than positive impact.
He said: “I’m worried that the more attention you draw to it, the more risk there is of somebody being treated with bias because of it.
“Even if someone has the best of intentions that may not necessarily be a good thing.
“Are there more intelligent ways of doing it, for example through IT?
“Also, unfortunately there are some unsavoury characters out there who would play pranks on people they knew were vulnerable.”
Norma Wardman, chief executive of Doncaster CVS, echoed his concerns.
She said: “Could this not bring about an increased risk of crime also?
“It could be like advertising the fact you are vulnerable.”
Mr Goddard responded: “That is a fair point. It’s about helping people, but also keeping them safe.
“I think the best thing to do would be to give people the choice. Some people may want a forget-me-not flower in their window, while others may prefer a dementia card in their purse or wallet which is more discreet.”
The matter was adjourned to be discussed in more detail at a future board meeting.
Mr Goddard’s report showed awareness of dementia has increased and stigma has reduced in 2014/2015, but more people have been diagnosed with the disease.
For 2015/16, there will be focus on helping patients live independently, safely.