The Herbert Protocol

The Herbert Protocol is a national scheme used by police forces and emergency services across the UK to support people living with dementia who might be at risk of becoming lost or reported as missing.

The scheme enables carers, family and friends to compile a detailed profile containing important information about the individual that should they go missing, can be quickly provided to the police to help in their search and rescue operations.

The risk of wandering is significant, and the consequences can be fatal.

944,000 people with dementia in the UK.

70% of people with dementia will go missing at least once.

40,000 people in the UK are reported missing for the first time every year.

The Herbert Protocol initiative is named after George Herbert, a war veteran of the Normandy landings, who had dementia and tragically died while he was missing on this way to his childhood home.

What is the Herbert Protocol?

The Herbert Protocol is a simple risk reduction tool; a form or online record that holds important information about a person with dementia. Once it's filled out, it holds details about what they look like, any medicine they take, important phone numbers to call, a recent photo of them, and places from their past where they find comfort and familiarity.

When a person living with dementia or other cognitive challenges is reported missing, the police will use the Herbert Protocol to inform their search and rescue operations.

Rapid access to an up-to-date Herbert Protocol is critical to provide the police with the best support possible.

Who should complete a Herbert Protocol form?

The right people to fill out this form are those who know the person at risk the best. This could be family, carers, or even the person themselves if they're able to. The goal is to make the information as personal and real as possible, so if an emergency happens, the search can begin with speed and accuracy.

In care settings, the person themselves or their closest relative will need to give their permission. If that's not an option, carers should carefully consider what's best for the person.

Remember, keeping this form updated is extremely important. Anytime something changes for the person, the form should change too. It means there's one less thing to worry about for families and friends if the person at risk goes missing, and it also helps the police to get moving faster.

When should you complete a Herbert Protocol form?

The Herbert Protocol is a vital step in being prepared for living with dementia.

It is important to not delay and complete the protocol as soon as possible.

Is the Herbert Protocol only for Dementia?

While it started out for people with dementia, the Herbert Protocol is now a recommended safety measure for anyone with a cognitive condition that could lead to them being confused or forgetful, like those with Autism or Parkinsons.

Setting up the Herbert Protocol

Setting up a Herbert Protocol is straight forward.

To store your Herbert Protocol online, sign up with MedicAlert and tick the box for the Herbert Protocol. This makes sure all the important details are kept safe and secure, and you can pop back anytime to update it.

Why is it called the Herbert Protocol?

This protocol is named after George Herbert, a war veteran from the Normandy landings who lived with dementia. After he went missing a few times, his local police, Norfolk Constabulary, realised they needed a better way to look after vulnerable people. The idea was to step in early and lower the risks, which led to the Herbert Protocol being created.

Mr. Herbert tragically died in 2011 whilst in search of his childhood home. His legacy lives on in bringing safety to others who step into the unknown because of memory loss.

Herbert Protocol history

2011: The Herbert Protocol starts as a local initiative between the Norfolk Constabulary and other agencies.

2015: Now people living at home with dementia are included too.

2018: The protocol is relaunched to help even more people with different memory challenges.

2021: Police throughout the UK get on board as the protocol is adopted by forces across the country.

2023: MedicAlert becomes the first charity to keep a national digital Herbert Protocol database and share it with the police and emergency teams when it counts.

Herbert Protocol and MedicAlert

For almost 60 years, MedicAlert has been serving and supporting the UK with its MedicAlert ID and 24/7 emergency response service. We support the daily lives of around 40,000 members with a wide range of chronic, complex and cognitive medical conditions.

MedicAlert is a registered charity no. 233705

Why you should set up a MedicAlert profile with a digital Herbert Protocol:

Just the facts: Whoever is looking after the form can update it anytime, so it's always got the most current information about the person who is at risk.

Quick thinking: Having the Herbert Protocol online means the police can get going ASAP when a loved one is lost.

A Helping Hand: Our lovely team, including amazing in-house registered nurses, are here to walk you through filling out the form, with empathy and expertise.

Respect and privacy: We keep each person's story safe and secure, giving you peace of mind so you can focus on caring for your loved one, knowing you're ready for any emergencies that could come your way.