Those with a loved one living with dementia will know the very real fear of that person going missing. We have all seen reports in our social media feeds and newspapers of older people going walkabout without keys, money or even appropriate clothing.
Thankfully there is a useful tool for families living with dementia, called the Herbert Protocol. This helps families to plan ahead to keep elderly relatives safe. The protocol is a form that carers, family or friends of a vulnerable person can fill in. It contains a list of information to help the police if the person goes missing, including:
Places previously located
A recent photograph
Keeping a completed form saves the worry of trying to recall the information during the stressful time of someone going missing. It also saves time for the police, allowing the search to start sooner.
The initiative is named after George Herbert, a war veteran of the Normandy landings, who lived with dementia. He sadly died whilst ‘missing’, on a journey trying to find his childhood home.
There is a link to the form here. You can fill it in online and then print out a hard copy to keep at home – it should be held somewhere secure but easily found, in case you need it in a hurry. There’s no need to hand it in to the police unless your loved one does actually go missing.
It’s a good idea to update the form regularly to make sure the information is always accurate, and to give copies to any carers/friends and family who are in regular contact with your loved one.