Critical care for people with dementia during the coronavirus pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic brings immense demands on the NHS. Many families affected by dementia are concerned about what hospital critical care guidelines during the pandemic mean for them and their loved ones.

As the world faces the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, people living with dementia face the greatest threat.

We’re in the most difficult of times and there are immense demands being placed on the NHS. However, we know many families living with dementia are concerned about what hospital critical care guidelines during the pandemic mean for them and their loved ones.

The need for support

In the past week Alzheimer’s Society has been inundated with calls about coronavirus to our Dementia Connect support line.

We’ve heard from people with dementia, especially those with families who are self-isolating, who are worried that if they go into hospital they will not receive the right care.

Using the basis of the Clinical Frailty Score system, even someone with mild dementia could be given the same score used as the example level for considering denying critical care under the critical care guidelines. 

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)

Alzheimer’s Society has raised this concern directly with NICE, the body in charge of the critical care guidelines. 

NICE have made clear to us that no decisions on critical care should be taken using the Frailty Score in isolation, with decisions purely based on a number. 

Instead the most important thing is that clinicians are expected to carry out a holistic assessment that looks at all aspects of the person’s health and wellbeing not just their dementia or Frailty Score.  

What is Alzheimer’s Society calling for?

  1. A review of NICE COVID-19 critical care guidelines and their impact for people living with dementia, to make clear that no one will be denied critical care solely because of their dementia. 
  2. Clarity on how clinicians will judge a 'positive outcome' for people with dementia when making clinical decisions for COVID-19. 
  3. Assurances that the use of the Clinical Frailty Score will not disadvantage people with dementia who are assessed for critical care at a time of limited resource. 

We are also concerned for people with dementia with reduced capacity, whose family are self-isolating, and the availability and access to Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCAs) who are overstretched at the best of times.       

We know that many people with dementia can live well for years with the condition with proper support, and we need reassurances from NICE and from the Government that people with dementia will get equal access to critical care.

If you need advice on your care or that of a relative living with dementia, you can call our Dementia Connect support line at 0333 150 3456.

Please support our emergency appeal

If you want to support Alzheimer’s Society’s work fighting to defend the rights of people with dementia during the coronavirus pandemic, please make a donation.

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