West Lothian social care staff join scheme to help people with dementia

West Lothian social care staff have joined police and other agencies to promote a life saving scheme to protect people suffering from dementia.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 6:00 am
Councillor Harry Cartmill.

The Herbert Protocol is a national scheme which encourages carers, family and friends to collate useful information on one form, which can quickly be accessed and then used in the event of a vulnerable person going missing.

Pamela Main, older people’s services, told a meeting of the Health and Care Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel: “When vulnerable people do go missing it is particularly distressing for all concerned. Research shows that fatalities decrease significantly when a missing person is found within 12 hours, so the quality of information gathered in the initial stages of the search is critical.”

The protocol is a simple form which collates key information to the vulnerable person which can be passed to the police.

It can be completed by a family member and kept at home or it can be completed in care settings such as a care home in partnership with close family.

Ms Main added: “As you can imagine, collating this information in advance also reduces the stress for family members or carers in trying to recall detailed information in an emergency.

“It reduces the risk of significant information being missed in a crisis. It is a simple solution to a complex issue.”

The initiative is named after George Herbert, a war veteran of the Normandy landings, who lived with dementia and sadly died while he was ‘missing’ on his way to visit his childhood home.

Police say there is a “Golden Hour” to trace a vulnerable person when they go missing and quick access to information on an individual can make a crucial difference.

The protocol was launched nationally to coincide with Dementia Awareness Week at the end of May and staff training will be rolled out through the summer.

Councillor Harry Cartmill, chairing the meeting said: “This is so necessary. I really welcome this.”

The initial roll-out of the protocol in West Lothian will only apply to those with dementia but Ms Main said the scheme could be extended to all vulnerable people.