“My loved one has dementia and has gone missing” – what can you do to help find them?

finding a loved one with dementia

Herbert Protocol is a British national scheme that can help Police find a loved one with dementia if they go missing.  There is a PDF or Word document that families, carers, friends or neighbours can print and complete with details about there loved one.  The form must contain as much vital information as possible.  It is a form that needs to be completed and kept safe just in case the worse happens.

How did the Herbert Protocol scheme begin?

The Herbert Protocol was originally for care homes

George Herbert was a decorated World War 2 veteran of the Normandy landings who lived with dementia.  He frequently wandered off from his care home and the Police would search for him. The Police then helped to develop a protocol in 2011 to help missing dementia patients get back to safety.

Unfortunately George died whilst ‘missing’ trying to find his childhood home.

In 2015 the Herbert Protocol then extended to individuals living in their homes with dementia.

My family member doesn't have dementia - why should I complete the form?

Your loved one doesn’t necessarily have to have dementia. It is a form that can be completed and updated over a period of time in case required in the future. A safety measure already put in place that the Police will urgently need to locate someone if the need arises.

Please remember the signs of dementia may not be obvious at first and we recommend reading the NHS Dementia Guide.  

How will the completed form help us find our loved one?

The Herbert Protocol form

It is advisable to keep the completed form in a visible, safe place, so that if the worse happens, it can be handed over to the police immediately.  Without such a form you won’t think straight.  Fear and worry can strike at the heart of the mind and override any rational thought and action. Time is of the essence. 

What information do I need to put on the form?

  • Full name family
  • Nickname
  • Current address
  • First spoken language
  • Physical description
  • Mobile numbers / tracker
  • Medical history
  • Life history
  • Recent photograph
  • Places previously visited

There is much more to consider which is why it is so important  that you put this procedure into place. 

You can read more at the North Yorkshire Police website and download the form here

North Yorkshire Police quote: “The Herbert Protocol is a simple risk reduction tool to help the police in their search for people with Dementia who go missing.”  Please take a moment to listen to the video below. 

We received information about Herbert Protocol via Humberside Police who state: “Often missing people head for locations or try to find people who mean a lot to them, so having details of these people and places written down in case of an emergency can really help us speed up our search.”

Which other organisations support the Herbert Protocol?

Alzheimer’s Society  and  AgeUK  including various Police forces around the United Kingdom, highlight the Herbert Protocol on there websites.  But other organisations are bringing awareness to the public too. If you know someone who is worried about a loved one, please mention this form. And ask them not to wait until  full-blown Dementia signs are visible as little changes in our loved ones can sometimes go unnoticed or linked to another reason. 

What do we do if our loved one goes missing?

Missing with Dementia

According to Humberside Police, the following procedures should be put into place.

  • You need to access the completed form easily
  • Call 999 and tell the emergency services you have completed the Herbert Protocol form and keep it to hand
  • The Police will take the form, keep it stored secured  and share it with other agencies if there is a need to safeguard someone


Time could be ticking ... complete the form ... don't leave it too late.

Herbert Protocol - save the life of a loved one with dementia
The Herbert Protocol was originally for care homes

Each minute is valuable if your loved one goes missing.  The Police need to act swiftly if there is a chance that person can be found alive.  In the last three years a number of elderly men and women in the East Riding of Yorkshire region have gone missing.  

The Herbert Protocol was originally for care homes

Some loved ones have been found and subsequently home safe, whilst the bodies of others were discovered sometime later. Your mind will be consumed with fear and therefore  you might forget a vital piece of information so by completing the Herbert Protocol form over a period of time and before it’s too late, will make those valuable first minutes into perhaps a life saved.  Please download the form and ensure all family members have a copy too.

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