Coronavirus: Join our campaign for support in social care

We have heard the Government announcing necessary support for the NHS. However, yet again, social care and those who desperately need it, have fallen to the bottom of the pile.

What is the impact of coronavirus on the care system?

The already stretched social care system has been devastated by coronavirus.

Care homes have shut their doors to visitors and many are operating with reduced staff. At the same time, it's estimated that 1.8million unpaid carers are becoming ill or self-isolating.

We have heard from thousands of people affected by dementia since the outbreak of coronavirus about the issues they have experienced with social care. From people who have become 24/7 unpaid carers overnight due to homecare being cancelled, to those not being able to contact loved ones living in care homes.

Based on what we have heard, we are working on the following priorities in this area.

Our campaign priorities

  • Testing and protective equipment - Making sure of availability in all care homes
  • Protecting social care standards - Responding to the Government’s emergency changes to the Care Act
  • Carers rights - Protecting the rights of paid and unpaid carers and keeping them connected with the people they support living with dementia.
  • Safeguarding - Working with local and national Government to uphold rights around Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.
  • Training - Advising on how training of additional volunteers and workforce should be implemented, should these groups of people come into contact with people living with dementia.

Social contact in care homes

We have heard from many of our supporters about the devastating impact of not being able to visit loved ones living with dementia in care homes. Many people have noticed significant cognitive decline and deterioration in the dementia symptoms of loved ones since the lockdown began.

Even when visits began again, we know that many people found it almost impossible to engage meaningfully with their loved ones through socially distanced visits outdoors, and were eagerly anticipating the Government's guidance on care home visits.

This guidance, which was published last week, asks Local Authorities to assess the risk of restarting visits to care homes based on local circumstances. It states that individual assessments should be carried out if the recommended visits do not work for people, and it is now up to Local Authorities to work with care homes and make sure this happens.

We have therefore developed a briefing with key recommendations for Local Authorities to take into account when supporting care homes to reopen, to ensure that care home visits work for people affected by dementia and their families. We have also created a commitment for Councils to sign up to in order to show their support for people affected by dementia affected by this issue.

Sign up to hear more about our campaigns

Sign up as an Alzheimer's Society campaigner to stay up to date with the latest news and support our future campaign actions.

Stay up to date

What has been achieved so far? 

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.

The Government must act to protect them.

We have already had some amazing successes influencing Government, including:

  • Calling on the Government to produce a specific strategy for tackling Covid-19 in the care sector, which they published a week after our letter to Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
  • Ensuring the Government committed to releasing daily data on the number of care home deaths, allowing us to understand the true impact of coronavirus on the care home sector
  • Calling on the Government to begin testing on asymptomatic care home residents and staff, which they have now committed to
  • Ensuring that the Government commit to the provision of training on dementia for care staff who may have little experience of caring for people with dementia

What must still be done?

We are so pleased to see the impact our campaigners have had so far, but we will not stop here.

We have heard from many people affected by dementia about the difficulties and worries they are having about being able to visit relatives with dementia in care homes during lockdown. We are working to find a solution to this and encouraging care homes and the Government to address it.

New data from the Office for National Statistics has shown that in March and April 25,000 people living with dementia passed away in England and Wales. This is more than double the number of deaths we’d expect for March and April without the pandemic. People affected by dementia are being unfairly impacted by coronavirus, and the Government must consider them in their action plans for the virus going forward.

We are asking Government to implement:  

  • An immediate and rapid investigation to better understand why people with dementia are being disproportionately impacted. 
  • Guidance on safe social contact between people living with dementia – either in a care home or in their own homes – and their loved ones.  
  • Improved communications to people affected by dementia that are clear, consistent and straightforward. 
  • Safe, regular, repeated and appropriate testing of people affected by dementia in care homes and those receiving domiciliary care.  
  • Visits from healthcare professionals are re-introduced to care settings as soon as possible.  

You can read more about the impact of the virus on people affected by dementia, and our calls on Government, in our blog.

Our calls on local Government regarding care quality during the pandemic

We are aware that many local authorities are considering whether and how they adopt the Care Act easements introduced by the Coronavirus Act in England. These easements allow local authorities to temporarily relax certain responsibilities in order to prioritise care during periods of significant pressure, such as the current pandemic.

We want to make sure that those most at risk receive the most protection. Dementia is the second highest pre-existing health condition for people dying of COVID-19 in England and Wales, and many people with dementia will have underlying health conditions which put them at greater risk of contracting the virus.

We want to ensure that local authorities who adopt the easements continue to meet the needs of people with dementia and avoid this crisis leading to an irreversible deterioration in their condition.

You can read more about our calls on local Government adopting Care Act easements.

Read about our other coronavirus campaigns

  • Support in the NHS - campaigning for everyone with dementia to have access to critical care.
  • Support in society - campaigning for everyone with dementia to have access to food and essential services.
Sign up to hear more about our campaigns

Sign up as an Alzheimer's Society campaigner to stay up to date with the latest news and support our future campaign actions.

Stay up to date
Dementia Connect support line
Our dementia advisers are here for you.
Think this page could be useful to someone? Share it: