A NATIONAL care and research charity which supports people with dementia and their carers has given its thoughts on a West Yorkshire Police initiative, designed to help facilitate the safe return of a vulnerable person, should they go missing.

The London-based Alzheimer's Society, which helps people who have various different types of dementia, as well as supporting their carers, says that the Herbert Protocol initiative will help to ensure a quicker and more efficient police response if a person with dementia goes missing.

The charity - which was formed in 1979 - also says the initiative will help to reduce the "distress" which families feel, should they find themselves unable to locate a loved one.

The Herbert Protocol initiative - which is named after George Herbert, a war veteran of the Normandy landings, who lived with dementia - is used by police forces up and down the country, including West Yorkshire Police, which

is hoping to make more people aware of it, with September marking the ninth annual World Alzheimer's Month.

There is even a link to a Herbert Protocol form, which can be downloaded for free, on the West Yorkshire Police website.

The initiative encourages carers to compile useful information about a vulnerable person, which could then be used in the event of that person going missing, to help find them and get them home safely.

Carers, family members and friends can complete a form recording vital details about the vulnerable person, such as the medication they may require, the mobile numbers they may have, the places where they have previously been found - if they have gone missing before - and a photograph of them.

An accurate description of the person's physical appearance, details of their life such as previous places of employment or their hobbies, as well as information about their family - including the addresses of relatives - may also be useful to include in the form.

If the vulnerable person was to go missing, the form can then easily be sent or handed to the police, which would help to reduce the time that it would normally take them to gather all of this information.

Alzheimer's Society sees the Herbert Protocol initiative as a vital scheme which could be used to help and support people with dementia, who, as the charity outlines, can often become disorientated and struggle to remember things.

The initiative may also be beneficial to carers, helping to minimise stress and anxiety.

Natasha Mort, Area Manager for Alzheimer’s Society, said: "We are pleased to see West Yorkshire Police rolling out the Herbert Protocol. People with dementia can experience problems with orientation and memory, which may make it hard for them to find their way home.

"This initiative will enable West Yorkshire Police to respond more quickly and efficiently if a person living with dementia goes missing, as well as minimising the distress that this can result in, for both the individual and for their family.

“Alzheimer’s Society is here for anyone who is affected by dementia. Our Dementia Connect support line offers personalised support, information and advice, on 0333 150 3456.”