As lockdown creates difficulties for people affected by dementia to get food and supplies, we are using our influence to remove barriers.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, Alzheimer’s Society has been working across industries and sectors to make sure people affected by dementia are included in planning.
We knew early on that many people with dementia and carers were having difficulties shopping for essentials and getting priority deliveries. We quickly began using our connections in retail to help address these problems.
Mike Parish lives in Somerset with his husband Tom, who has dementia along with other health conditions. Tom received an official letter identifying him as extremely vulnerable and advising him to stay shielded indoors for three months.
Tom’s symptoms mean that Mike can’t leave him at home alone, but Mike struggled to have Tom recognised as being vulnerable by supermarkets.
This made it extremely difficult to get shopping and supplies, and for three weeks they had no access to fresh food or essential groceries.
‘I can't imagine how many more people there are in my predicament, who are having to put their dependants at risk by going shopping or collecting shopping,’ said Mike.
‘We are mostly all survivors and we make things happen, but sometimes people might not be in a position to influence the essential support needed.’
Armed with this kind of direct evidence of how people with dementia and carers were being left behind, Alzheimer’s Society went straight to those in a position to make a difference.
We outlined the difficulties facing people affected by dementia – and how these could be overcome – to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs as well as supermarket chains and industry bodies like the British Retail Consortium and Association of Convenience Stores (ACS).
‘We secured the government’s agreement that people with dementia, their families and carers should get priority support from local authorities and supermarkets,’ says Emma Bould, our Programme Partnership Project Manager.
‘We also successfully called for all supermarkets and local authorities to have a helpline for vulnerable people to order food, and we continue to push for further urgent action.’
Another great outcome has been how ACS responded. It’s been advising its 33,500 members – local independent shops and small convenience chains – about how they can best support people affected by dementia.
This has included guidance on home deliveries, dedicated opening hours and payments made by someone else on behalf of a vulnerable customer.
ACS developed a checklist so that shops can easily let us and their local authority know how they can help people – information we pass on to those who could benefit.
We’re also working with ACS to help convenience retailers better understand and support customers living with dementia by creating 25,000 Dementia Friends.
‘This is an uncertain and difficult time for us all and it’s important that we play our part in providing support for those who need it,’ says James Lowman, ACS Chief Executive.
We need your help
We can’t keep our phone lines open or manage the increase in demand for our services without urgent financial support. Please donate today – with your help, we can show people living with dementia that they aren’t alone.