Panorama: 'The Forgotten Frontline' - Alzheimer's Society comment

'The Forgotten Frontline' highlights how social care staff from across the UK have been impacted by coronavirus.

Tonight at 21:00 (Thursday 30 July 2020), Panorama will broadcast a report on how care homes have fared during the coronavirus pandemic. Reporter Alison Holt asks if care homes were abandoned to fight the virus alone.

Fiona Carragher, director of Research and Influencing at Alzheimer's Society, said:

'On tonight’s Panorama we saw how care homes were left to fend for themselves without guidance or adequate supplies of PPE and testing at the start of the pandemic. We also saw the toll of decades of underinvestment in social care.

Despite hardworking staff doing their best, care homes were abandoned to their fate - it is people with dementia, making up at least 70% of care home residents, who were worst hit, dying in their thousands.

'Since March, people have sought our help over half a million times, our Alzheimer's Society Dementia Connect support line flooded with thousands of calls from people terrified about their loved ones.

'It’s clear that simply locking down care homes isn’t a long-term solution. People with dementia can live well with the right care, but as we saw tonight, lack of social contact causes a devastating impact.

Family carers provide essential care and support - knowing and understanding how to help their loved ones eat and drink and take their medicine. They must be officially recognised as equal partners in care and given access to regular testing, just as a Key Worker would.

'Panorama showed starkly that social care reform cannot wait. We urge the Government to learn the lessons from this pandemic, putting social care on an equal footing with the NHS so that we do not see a further tragic loss of life.'