Keeping adults with learning disabilities safe

Someone living with a Learning Disability may be at risk if they get lost or go missing as their condition may make them unable to seek help. It is therefore important that you act as soon as you realise the person you care for has gone missing.

The Risks

If someone living with a Learning Disability gets lost or goes missing they may find themselves in an unfamiliar setting and be unable to find their way back. This can be a worrying and stressful.

Once lost, the person may be at risk of harm due not being appropriately dressed for the weather conditons, not having access to any required medication, a lack of food, and physical hazards such as water or moving vehicles.

Reducing The Risks

If the person you care for is at risk of going missing, it is useful to consider some steps that may help them stay safe. Possible options to consider include:

  • Put your address and telephone number in a safe place on their person. This could include sewing your details in to an item of clothing, such as a coat, or placing a card inside their pocket or wallet.

  • Talking to neighbours and people in the community who you trust about your loved one. People in your community may be able to help keep your loved one safe if they are ever lost or confused. This could include friends, a shop keeper, bus driver or train station staff. It is not always obvious that a person is confused, lost or missing. However, members of your community may be more likely to consider this if you make them aware in advance.

  • Seek support if you need to. Supporting a loved one living with a Learning Disability can be challenging and there are a number of charities who can help and offer a range of guidance

  • Use the Scent Kit and Herbert Protocol Form. Carers, family members and friends can complete this form in advance to record important information about the person at risk of going missing so that it can be shared with the police if ever needed. This is explained further below.

The Herbert Protocol

Inside your scent capture kit is a Life History Form, which is based on the Herbert Protocol.

This form gives family members, friends and care staff the opportunity to record information about the person living with a Learning Disability such as their description, medical conditions and places that they might go missing. It is also encouraged to attach a recent photograph of the person to the form.

By completing this form now, important information is already available to be given immediately to the police and search teams if that person does go missing. if you would like more information about the Herbert Protocol, or you would like to request a longer and more detailed form, please contact your local police force.

Download a Life History Form.

It is also recommended that the person carries some form of identification or the name and telephone number for someone who can be contacted if they did get lost.


Search Dog Heroes can send you a scent kit ready to be filled with your loved ones details