Families and care settings encouraged to use scheme to help protect people with dementia
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People caring for someone living with dementia are being encouraged to use a Northamptonshire Police initiative to help keep people with dementia safe and found.
The Herbert Protocol enables carers and families of people living with dementia to log key information about them on a form, including their description, a current photograph, medical information, favourite locations, hobbies, routines and more.
Stored securely where the person lives, the form can be handed straight to police if they are reported missing, providing immediate, detailed insight into their life and habits, helping direct search efforts so they can be found as quickly as possible.
A new, improved version of the Herbert Protocol form has recently been made available online, with the Force’s Missing Persons Team (MPT) urging anyone who feels it could be useful for themselves or someone they care for to take a look.
Detective Sergeant Torie Harrison, of the MPT, said: “Since the Force adopted the Herbert Protocol back in 2018, it’s been useful in a number of missing person cases. We know that for those caring for someone living with dementia, the worry that they may go missing is very real.
“Completing even some of the form gives our officers a short-cut to often vital information they would be asking for in order to begin looking for the missing person, helping us prioritise where to look, and to understand the best way to approach someone who may be disorientated or distressed.
“It also reduces stress on relatives, friends and carers as they don’t have to worry they’ve forgotten to tell us something important, like where their loved one might go, or the medication they need.”
Work is underway with partner agencies to spread the word about the protocol, which is used by police forces across the UK and is named after George Herbert, a war veteran who lived with dementia.
Jane Geraghty, independent scrutineer at the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Adults Board, said: “I would urge all partner agencies to adopt and embed this policy and practice in the work of their organisation. The information gathered in respect of this protocol, including photographs and favourite places can assist in the early location of a vulnerable missing person and potentially prevent neglect and even death.”
Download the Herbert Protocol form from the Northamptonshire Police website – it can be completed electronically or by hand, then be stored securely in the home of the person it relates to. Further copies can be stored securely by relatives and trusted friends and neighbours. In a care home setting, the form should be stored in accordance with data protection laws.
If the person it relates to goes missing, call 999 immediately and tell the call handler that a completed Herbert Protocol form exists. It can then be emailed or handed to police officers, and is returned when the person is found.