For 12 weeks, Trevor has been unable to visit his wife, Yvonne, who lives in a care home. Trevor wants assurance from Government that they will consider the needs of people living with dementia, like Yvonne, as they begin to ease lockdown restrictions.
It has been 12 weeks since Trevor has been able to visit his wife, Yvonne, who has dementia, at her care home.
For nine and a half years, Yvonne and Trevor were able to manage her condition together.
In May 2019, it was decided by Trevor and their children that the best next step, for both Yvonne and Trevor, was for her to move into residential care near their family home.
Since then, the family have been greatly content with the level of care Yvonne has received.
‘It was so important to me that the care home staff became Yvonne’s surrogate family, and the residents became her friends. That’s exactly what happened.’
Despite his trust in the quality of care Yvonne has received, Trevor is deeply concerned that the ongoing pandemic is forcing him and other families to lose control of their loved ones and their care.
With little mention of plans for care homes in lockdown easements, low staff workforces, and inadequate testing and PPE provision in care homes, Trevor fears that his wife’s condition is being put at risk.
'People living with dementia need routine and stimulation, familiarity and hugs. With the arrival of coronavirus, and as a result of lockdown in her care home, the regular heartbeat of life in the home changed overnight.
'The familiar faces of care home staff, family and friends ceased to appear, and of necessity carers had to hide behind masks and were unable to wrap their arms around the residents.
'It is no wonder that Yvonne lost her sparkle and found herself in a world which she doesn’t understand.'
Breaking threads of recognition
Trevor understands that a period of lockdown and measures taken to stop care home visits were necessary.
But like many other families, Trevor wants to know what will happen next.
'I feel resigned to the fact that the situation is out of my control, which is definitely a first for me as a carer.'
'Lockdown instantly disconnected us.'
'I know the staff at the care home are doing an amazing job looking after the residents.
'However, if the lockdown continues for many more weeks – and this is quite probable – then I fear that the thread of recognition could perhaps be irreversibly broken between my wife, myself and all our family and friends.
'The Government still seems incapable of considering the complex nature of dementia and the potential devastation further lockdown could have on people living with the condition and their families.
‘I am so grateful to the care home, but this isn’t just down to them. The Government needs to step up.’
Keeping in touch
'When lockdown began, I asked for a process to be put in place so that we could be in touch with Yvonne.
'The care home manager actioned this and all loved ones can schedule weekly Facetime, Skype and WhatsApp video calls. This works for now, but it is not sustainable for Yvonne’s condition.'
'At my request, the care home manager also implemented weekly Zoom meetings with all primary loved ones for residents.
'In terms of staying in contact and knowing what’s happening in the care home, this is probably as good as it can get.
'The care home manager can’t be solely responsible for offering and finding solutions.'
'Lockdown easements and planning continue to be underway for just about every group of people. Government are yet to give any guidance on what happens next in care homes.
'Regular testing of all residents and staff at the home would provide me with a degree of reassurance that the virus will be kept at bay and that a second spike won’t occur. The country’s leadership are the only people who can enforce this.'
An urgent need for Government action
People affected by dementia have been worst hit by the coronavirus pandemic – facing devastation at home, in their community and in care homes. The effects of the outbreak cannot be undone, but action can be taken to better protect people now, and in the future. To make this happen, urgent solutions must be put in place to better protect, support and connect people affected by dementia during the pandemic.
Alzheimer’s Society have secured a parliamentary debate on the shattering impact of Covid-19 on families affected by dementia. We have shared thousands of lived experiences with government, but you can also make sure your MP represents you.
Government must take urgent action
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