Tests for visitors in all care homes in England by Christmas: Alzheimer's Society comment

Today (Monday 16 November), Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the government aimed to have coronavirus testing available to allow visits in all care homes in England by Christmas.

This follows the DHSC pilot launch for family members to get regular testing to enable safer care home visits.

Fiona Carragher, Director of Research and Influencing at Alzheimer’s Society commented,

'It’s good news to hear Matt Hancock’s commitment to ensuring families can see their loved ones in care homes by Christmas. People die from isolation and loneliness too, and what’s particularly awful is that many people with dementia in care homes don’t know that there’s a virus, they don’t understand what’s going on.

Over the past few months our Dementia Connect support line has been flooded with desperate calls from families, helpless as their loved ones rapidly go downhill, losing memories, the ability to talk and eat, and just giving up on life.

'The average length of life in care homes is 15 months – stricken people with dementia, their partners, families and friends have been waiting more than half that time, and it’s just so heartbreakingly dreadful that so many are missing the final weeks and days of their loved ones’ lives. This will undoubtedly have mental health repercussions for them, unable to grieve as they should.

'The Government must learn from the pilot fast and it must not be an excuse to delay national rollout. It’s important Matt Hancock keeps his promise, as Christmas isn’t soon enough for many people affected by dementia.'