Coronavirus (COVID-19) - dementia and COVID-19: action plan
This national action plan plan sets out how we will build on our national response to the coronavirus pandemic since March 2020 and how we will continue and expand that response in 2021 to continue to support recovery for people with dementia and their carers.
Support For Carers
"Being house-bound with a person I love but who can no longer speak to me"
"Even an hour to relax in a bath… I honestly don't think that's too big an ask"
"It's easy to say but hard to do... locally staff on the ground must support carers to feel like equal partners"
"If I hadn't had the Alzheimer Scotland Helpline, and specialist help, I wouldn't have managed."
- Family carers play a crucial role in caring for and supporting loved ones with dementia. However, the nature of their caring role can often leave carers feeling isolated from friends and their community and finding it challenging to balance their own health and wellbeing alongside that of the person they care for. Family carers are worried about the people they love and their ability to cope on a daily basis with fewer other supports to draw on – and the continued uncertainty over getting support.
- Some Carers have struggled to maintain their caring role alongside their own health and wellbeing, particularly as some services have been withdrawn and are not yet remobilised. Respite was consistently identified during the engagement process as one of the most important resources that could make a real difference to carers. Where carers were connected to their local Carers' Centre they were more likely to feel supported, to have access to short breaks and other information and resources. More creative approaches to respite were also called for.
- Recent polling and research also indicates a large increase in unpaid carer numbers during the pandemic (from around 700,000 to 1.1 million), and provides evidence of individual carers doing more. Carers are dealing with pressures that are already great, and we understand that many are experiencing added pressure at this time. There may be significant impact on their physical and mental health and an economic impact.
- Throughout the course of the pandemic, we have been working alongside key organisations to ensure that carers have the up to date advice they need to help protect themselves and the person they care for, as well as information on carer support and how to access this.
- We have also been engaging with groups such as The Scottish Dementia Working Group (SDWG), National Dementia Carers Action Network (NDCAN), Together In Dementia Everyday (TIDE) and Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project (DEEP) through national dementia groups and the Clear Your Head campaign. In addition, there has been engagement with the Care Homes Relatives Scotland group on the critical issue of care home visiting and the development of family-facing visiting guidance and website resources.
- We have put in place a number of measures already to help ensure that we are responding to the impact of the pandemic on carers and the right support is available for those that need it. This has included:
- a £500,000 fund to support local carer services move to supporting carers remotely;
- the extension of access to PPE to unpaid carers;
- extra funding for short breaks for carers;
- publishing guidance on the safe reopening of adult day care services and standalone residential respite services;
- a one-off Coronavirus Carer's Allowance Supplement payment in June for those in receipt of Carer's Allowance;
- a dedicated page on the National Wellbeing Hub for carer support and access to the National Wellbeing Hub support;
- the launch of a dedicated national marketing campaign to encourage carers to access the support available to them.
- Working with our partners in the Care Inspectorate and third sector, we have engaged with carers, mainly of people living in care homes, as a response to the added stress these carers have experienced, to shape family facing guidance that will support people to stay connected to their carers and reinforce our commitment to carers being recognised as equal partners in care.
We will also fund a counselling service provided by Alzheimer Scotland which will help to ensure that:
- Carers of people with dementia are aware and informed of their rights under the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016.
- Carers of people with dementia are supported emotionally with a focus on the impact of COVID-19 and its lasting effects on families.
- Families and carers of people with dementia are supported emotionally following the death of a loved one with dementia.
- Carers feel more resilient in their capacity to care.
Commitment 12: We will engage with carer representatives to ensure carers of people with dementia are aware of and can access the support available to them, including their rights under the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016. We will also work with our dementia stakeholders to maximise awareness and uptake of the support carers have a right to access.
Commitment 13: We will provide funding for counselling support through Alzheimer Scotland for carers of people with dementia in response to the pandemic which will complement mental health support accessed in the NHS.
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