The Herbert Protocol is a UK national initiative launched on 21st September 2021, specifically designed for people who have had a diagnosis of dementia and are at risk of going missing. The protocol has been in use for several years after being trialled across local authorities in the UK. The success of the protocol has merited its national roll out.
People living with dementia often have loss of short-term memory but can recall memories from decades earlier. Sometimes those who are reported missing are attempting to make their way to a place of previous significance to them. The Herbert Protocol is an information gathering mechanism which records where the person grew up, favourite places, current or former hobbies, GP contact details, medication, daily routine, and a recent photograph (with consent) to share on social media. The form is four pages and should be completed and kept by carers and families ready to provide to the police in the event of someone going missing.
Supported by agencies across the country (including Police Scotland and Health & Social Care Partnership’s to name a few), it is a straightforward process which provides essential information to the police in the event a person with dementia goes missing. Being able to provide this information quickly allows timely access to vital information and avoids delays to gather the information at the time of crisis.
The protocol was initiated in Norfolk in 2011 where a war veteran named George Hebert went missing and sadly died while trying to locate his childhood home. We often hear of people with dementia going missing and it is hoped that this protocol will help safely and quickly locate them.
The form can be completed as part of the post-diagnostic support or part of advance care planning. Although held by families/carers, care homes can hold this in their records if that is where the individual resides; there is currently no central repository for the information as this allows it to be updated as required. It should be kept in a safe place at home, easily accessible, and ideally electronically. It can be used in conjunction with the Purple Alert App, developed by Alzheimer’s Scotland, and available free of charge.
More information, and the form itself, can be found at: The Herbert Protocol - missing persons with Dementia - Police Scotland which has a short video advising of what to do in the event that someone with dementia does go missing.