The Alzheimer's Society has called for the Government to take immediate steps to support care home residents and their families through the pandemic after thirteen deaths were recorded in a week in the Burlington Court care home in Glasgow.
The charity says that yet again, social care and those who desperately need it have fallen to the bottom of the pile. At present, care home residents are being cut off from their families, denied access to hospital treatment, and routinely encouraged to sign Do Not Resuscitate orders. We are calling on Government to implement measures that will put an end to the lack of consideration to those who need social care.
There are more than 400,000 people living in care homes in the UK, more than 70% of which are living with some form of dementia. Many of these people also have other underlying health conditions.
In a letter to the Secretary of Health, Matt Hancock, it asks for the following measures to be implemented:
- PPE equipment must be readily available to care homes. Without it, residents’ lives are at risk.
- Care home staff and people being discharged from hospital into care homes should be given priority testing for the virus, alongside critical NHS staff.
- Working with technology companies, the Government should support care homes to put in place arrangements to ensure continued contact between residents and their loved ones.
- That the impact of the virus on care homes is measured and published.
Government must make clear that people with dementia matter
In the letter Kate Lee Chief Executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "Without proper testing or protective equipment care home staff are struggling to cope. They are putting themselves in danger to care for others, while at the same time they risk carrying the disease to vulnerable groups.
"Over the last couple of weeks we have received thousands of phone calls to our Dementia Connect support line and hundreds of emails from worried family members, friends and people living with dementia themselves. We are speaking to people who are affected by dementia across the UK – and those who work with them – to better understand how this pandemic is affecting them. For many care home residents with dementia, their family and friends play a really significant role in their care.
"Equally, if people living with dementia don’t keep their basic cognition and communications skills sharp, they could lose them. Indeed, some have told us they can already see this has started to happen."
The charity added that two thirds of care home residents in England are living with dementia. Thousands of lives are at risk. But with a national focus on measuring deaths in hospitals, deaths from coronavirus in care homes are not even being measured or published.
Overall, the Government must make clear that people with dementia matter and that no one will be abandoned to this virus simply because of their age or their dementia.