New scheme launched to help trace missing Edinburgh dementia sufferers

FAMILIES have backed a new initiative to help police find dementia sufferers quickly if they go missing in the Capital.

Wednesday, 5th June 2019, 7:39 pm
The Herbert Protocol lets people provide details of their loved ones lives to use as clues if they go missing

The Herbert Protocol enables people to provide comprehensive details of their loved ones’ lives which may contain clues as to their whereabouts.

It was named after Normandy veteran George Herbert who lived with dementia and died in 2011 after vanishing while looking for his childhood home.

Jan Robertson, whose husband has dementia and has been reported missing twice, said: “Something like this should’ve been put in place a long time ago – it’s a simple thing. It could be amazing. It’s such a good thing and I hope it takes off.”

A dementia sufferer was reported missing in the Capital last year at the rate of one every three days.

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Chief Inspector Alan Carson of Edinburgh Division said: “Last year, we received 125 reports of a person with dementia being missing in Edinburgh, and this is a hugely anxious time for their loved ones. The risks to a person’s safety are high and a robust response is an absolute necessity.

“The Herbert Protocol enables people to be assured that all relevant information can be passed quickly to police, and will provide vital 
assistance to officers in their search efforts.”

Police launched the initiative with the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership as part of national Dementia Awareness Week and Scottish Missing Person Week.

Councillor Ricky Henderson, Chair of the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board, said: “When someone with dementia goes missing, it’s a race against the clock to find them safe and well.

“By adopting The Herbert Protocol in Edinburgh, we hope to make it easier for families and carers and everyone who works in health and social care to compile important information about their loved ones and patients. Details like where somebody with dementia went to school, the streets and buildings which might be familiar to them or a note of their hobbies and a recent photograph.

“By investing a bit of time now and filling out Herbert Protocol forms, together we could save precious minutes should the worst happen and somebody in our care goes missing.

“It could help the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership and the police trace people, and it could save lives.”

Charity Alzheimer Scotland is also backing the protocol, launched at the Living Memory Association at Ocean Terminal yesterday.

Joyce Gray of Alzheimer Scotland said: “If someone with dementia does not return home or becomes missing, it’s a distressing time for families, so having vital information to hand relieves some of that pressure and helps focus searches on places meaningful to the individual concerned.”

andy.shipley@edinburghnews.com