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Brother of missing Derry dementia sufferer John Concannon issues plea for tracking devices

By Donna Deeney

Published 09/11/2016

Missing: John Concannon
Missing: John Concannon

The brother of a man missing from his home for a year has marked the anniversary with a fresh call for tracking devices for people diagnosed with dementia.

John Concannon (72) failed to return to his home in the Galliagh area of Londonderry after a visit to the city centre one year ago this week.

He was last seen getting off a bus that was not the usual one he took, at a stop a short distance from his home.

Since then, despite extensive searches on both sides of the Irish border, Mr Concannon has never been found.

His brother, Robert, said his family could have been spared months of pain and anguish if tracker devices were given to people with dementia.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Concannon raised questions over a pilot scheme by the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB).

It had been planned to test the use of tracker devices as a way of maintaining independence and safeguarding dementia sufferers.

He said: "Within days of me calling for tracker devices for people with dementia like my brother, John, this pilot scheme was announced by the Health Board but I haven't heard a single word about it since."

"No one can begin to imagine the turmoil we have endured over the past 12 months since John went missing. We have searched and searched every street, field and ditch," he explained.

"We still wake every morning and go to bed at night thinking about him and wondering if we will ever find him."

Mr Concannon said a growing number of people are being diagnosed with dementia "and they are getting younger and younger".

"That makes it all the more important that, if the technology is there that could help them, then they must get it.

"These devices would help keep people with dementia safe and secure and it would spare their families the pain and anguish our family continues to go through.

"It makes me angry that the Health Board has these devices but they seem to be allowing them to gather dust rather than help save lives," he added.

In January 2016, Seamus McErlean, Commissioning Lead for Older People and Adult Services at the Health and Social Care Board, announced its intention to launch the scheme across all five Health Trust areas in Northern Ireland.

However, the pilot scheme was not run in the Western Trust area and it remains unclear if it was ever rolled out across any of the other four Trusts.

No-one from the HSCB was available for comment when contacted.

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