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September is World Alzheimer’s Month. We caught up with our Dementia Lead, David Moore to discuss the impact of coronavirus for people living with dementia and dementia care.

How has the coronavirus impacted people living with dementia and the care they’re receiving?

This has been an incredibly difficult time for many people but in particular for people living with dementia and their families. MHA colleagues and family members have had to adapt many different strategies to ensure people living with dementia are safe from COVID-19 and still continued to take part in the things that make life meaningful.

We have worked to ensure our residents living in our care homes have maintained the essential link with their families and friends. Whether, this is through video calls and drive-through, window or garden visits. More recently we launched our essential family carer scheme to ensure families were still able to visit their relative with dementia who was experiencing significant distress because of this separation. 

Another obstacle was ensuring our residents felt engaged and supported with suitable and stimulating activities during the pandemic. The wonderful work of our amazing activity coordinators and chaplains ensured this continued through opportunities to activity and spiritual support. Our partnership with Active Minds has enabled our dementia care homes to receive activity packs specially designed for people living with dementia.

How do you think technology has helped?

Technology has been particularly helpful during this time. People living with dementia have been able to remain connected with their family and loved ones. Our MHA communities have maintained their links with members living with dementia through the use of zoom and Facebook.

This quote from a family member really highlights the impact of this during the time:

“My mum has been a member of an MHA community group for five years, she had activities four days per week and it wasn’t until lockdown that I realised what a valuable service it was. My mum has always been a happy sociable person so when her groups were cancelled her dementia progressed at an alarming rate.

“Fortunately, Zoom sessions were offered for one-one support. These sessions we’re invaluable from week one. Mum was able to see and speak to people she knew really well and she was able to chat and join in quizzes which were focussing on her memory…Week on week her spirit lifted after the sessions and her speech and memory improved too. It really gave her something to look forward to and occupied her time doing things she liked”. 

We have also received many important donations to help us to continue our life-enhancing support during this time. Our dementia care homes have all received a robotic cat and several homes have had smart tablets donated from Memory Tracks.

If you would also like to support us during this time, please visit our donation page. Any charitable gifts, large or small, will be greatly appreciated. 

What is your best piece of advice for anyone who is caring for someone living with dementia during this time?

My best advice for anyone who is supporting a person living with dementia is to recognise that you are not alone. Caring for another can be a lonely role, but because of the pandemic, many have found themselves more isolated than ever. There are great support networks out there for families and friends of people living with dementia who can support you and advise you.

In all of MHA services we recognise that we are not just supporting the person living with dementia but also their whole family. Knowledge is a powerful tool in helping an individual care for a person living with dementia and because of this, MHA provides dementia awareness sessions for families and friends of people living with dementia.

For more information, read our article on 10 ways to support people living with dementia during the pandemic >

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