West Yorkshire Police is supporting Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Awareness Week 2014 by launching a new initiative encouraging closer working with care providers to speed up the process when residents are reported missing.
Neighbourhood officers will be visiting care providers across West Yorkshire asking them to sign up to the Herbert Protocol, which puts systems in place for early intervention when vulnerable residents go missing.
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Atkinson said: “The first few hours of any missing-person search are critical but even more so when a person has dementia or another condition that can leave them confused and vulnerable.
“Care providers signed up to the Herbert Protocol will be asked to complete a form for any resident considered to be of particular risk of going missing due to health issues such as Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
“This form, which will be kept on record at the home, will contain details such as an up-to-date description of the resident, addresses or locations where they may try to go and details of how mobile they are.
“A package of information will also be put together for each care home signed up to the protocol, with useful information such as bus routes in the area, location of nearby CCTV cameras and any particular areas of risk nearby, such as waterways.
“By having this information already compiled it will save precious time and mean inquiries can be progressed immediately, tailored to the known details of that resident, and without the need for certain staff members with that knowledge to be on shift."
Alzheimer’s Society operations manager for Yorkshire and the Humber, Judith Gregory, said: “We are delighted West Yorkshire Police is introducing the Herbert Protocol.
“People with dementia are particularly vulnerable if they go missing from a care home or other familiar setting.
“They may be trying to find their way back to their own home or somewhere else from their past life that they have happy memories of, but can quickly become confused and completely lost.
“These new measures will really help police act quickly to find someone who has gone missing and hopefully minimise the distress this can result in for the individual and their family.”