Burnley support scheme for dementia residents who go missing

The new scheme will help authorities to trace missing people with dementia in Burnley
The new scheme will help authorities to trace missing people with dementia in Burnley

A scheme that helps the emergency services find people with dementia who go missing from home is set to be backed by Burnley Council.

The Herbert Protocol uses an information database to hold vital information which can be used in the search for a missing person.

The information can be used by search and rescue teams to pinpoint likely areas for investigation, reduce the amount of time it takes to find someone, and increase the chances of them being discovered safe and well.

The council is working with Lancashire Police and other partners to promote the scheme.

More information on the scheme, including a downloadable form, is available at https://lancashire.police.uk/herbertprotocol

Coun. Margaret Lishman, which is chairman of the Burnley Dementia Action Alliance, said: “This is a simple but effective scheme that can help save lives.

“Unfortunately it’s not uncommon for someone with dementia to wander off and become lost and confused. When anyone goes missing, but especially someone who is as vulnerable as a person with dementia, time is of the essence.

"The quicker they can be found the better. Being able to provide the police and search teams with information that can lead to them being found safe and well is vital.

A special scrutiny committee was formed by councillors to look at the range of services available to dementia patients in Burnley borough. The councillors decided to concentrate on the Herbert Protocol and how the council could support it being rolled out to organisations across the borough.

Its chairman Coun. Andy Tatchell said: “I’m delighted the council is helping to support this initiative and spread the message so that others can get involved. It’s a simple but effective way of reducing the risk of someone coming to harm.”

There are currently more than 1,200 people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or another dementia-related illness in the borough.

The Herbert Protocol involves filling in a form that contains important information that can be used if a person goes missing, such as personal details, appearance, location of family and friends, favourite places, address history and access to transport.

Family members keep the form until it is required, when it can be passed to the police to help in any search and rescue operation.

A report to the council’s Executive Committee, which meets on March 20th, recommends it supports the Herbert Protocol scheme and develops opportunities to work with partners to maximise take-up in the borough.

The council already promotes work done to support Burnley’s Dementia Friendly status, including training for staff, help for the borough’s Dementia Action Alliance, and promoting event and activities aimed at raising awareness. Recent renovation work at Thompson Park included the refurbishment of the café in a way that makes it “dementia friendly”.