As part of Dementia Action Week (Monday 20 May to Sunday 26 May), Cheshire Constabulary is urging the friends and family members of those living with dementia to sign up to the Herbert Protocol.
The scheme was launched by the force in April 2017 as part of its continuing commitment to be dementia friendly.
Under the scheme carers, family members and friends of those with dementia are encouraged to complete an online form to record vital details about that person in case they ever go missing.
When completing the form carers are asked to include a photograph of the person, any medication they require, contact phone numbers and key information about places they like to visit, where they used to live and work, their routine and where have been found previously (if applicable).
This means that if the person is ever reported to the police as missing, all their vital information can be accessed instantly and handed to officers.
This reduces the time it takes to gather information, which can prove vital.
Since its inception, the forms have already been downloaded 11,500 times and the scheme has been used successfully on at least two occasions – and in both instances the victims have been located safe and well.
There has also been a number of other examples where the information contained within the forms has been used by carers to help locate an individual without the requirement to contact police.
Chief Inspector Simon Newell, who leads on dementia related issues for Cheshire Constabulary, said: “While two incidents might not sound like much, that is two families that have been reunited with a loved one and two lives which have potentially been saved as a result of completing a simple online form.
“The forms give officers the information and details they require when a person with dementia goes missing, enabling them to be found quicker as well as helping to free up valuable police time and resources.”
Since the scheme was launched a large number of PCSOs have trained as Dementia Friends Champions and have delivered training sessions to their colleagues and community groups to help raise awareness of the Dementia and learn about what they can do make a difference.
PCSOs have also been working closely local GP Surgeries to encourage Practice Managers to include the Herbert Protocol as part of an information pack provided to individuals on diagnosis with dementia.
In addition, the force has also been working with Dementia Friendly Steering groups, which are made up of statutory bodies, businesses and volunteers in towns and villages across Cheshire, to raise awareness and promote a better environment for people with dementia to live.
This work has included organising inclusive events, respite activities for carers and changing the infrastructure and designs of shops, leisure centres and businesses to make them more accommodating for people with dementia.
As a result, a number of areas within Cheshire have achieved Dementia Friendly Community status, which is a huge achievement, and in line with the National Emergency Services Strategic Commitment to Dementia.
Police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, David Keane, said: “Dementia touches the lives of millions of people across the UK, yet many people do not understand what it is and what impact it has on those who live with it.
“Many people think that dementia is purely about memory loss and believe that there is nothing they can do to help, but that is simply not the case. We can all do something to support those living with dementia in our communities, including signing up to the Herbert Protocol.
“By spending five minutes filling in a simple form you can help ensure that officers are equipped with the right information at the right time should your loved one ever be reported missing, which could prove critical.”
Chief Inspector Newell added: “Dementia touches everyone, and while a large number of people have already joined the scheme hundreds of new cases are diagnosed every week and we all have a role to play in helping to keep those with dementia safe.
“I encourage anyone living in Cheshire who has a friend or relative living with dementia to visit our website and complete the Herbert Protocol form. It will not take long to fill it in – and the information you provide could be vital.”
To find out more about the Herbert Protocol, or to register a friend or family member, visit www.cheshire.police.uk/advice-and-support/missing-persons/herbert-protocol .