Coronavirus (COVID-19): Guidance for Carers of People Living with Dementia

Support for Families, Carers and Friends of People Living with Dementia

The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of a new continuous cough and/or high temperature.

If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or there isn’t an improvement after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

Call NHS 111: If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider for medical advice.

Always maintain proper hygiene:

  • Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas where other people are doing so. Use hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to.
  • To reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue in a bin immediately. Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel.
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue instead of your hands, and ensure the tissue is thrown in the bin.
  • Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects such as remote controls, door handles, taps, phones and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.

The NHS has also sent a letter to everyone considered to be at risk of severe illness if they catch the coronavirus. You may have received the letter yourself, either as someone in this ‘high risk’ group or as the named carer of someone else who is. 

If a person you care for has received this letter they must stay at home at all times and avoid all face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeksexcept from their carer(s) and healthcare workers continuing to provide essential medical care.

For the most up to date information and advice about coronavirus visit the Full guidance for people at the highest risk 

For Primary Carers

If you think you’ve been in close contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, take extra precaution around social distancing and check if you have symptoms using the NHS 111 covid-19  symptom checker.

If you haven’t already, we recommend putting in place contingency measures to support the person you care for.

We are also aware that many social activities and respite programs have been cancelled during this time. Therefore, you may find it helpful to structure your day and include activities that you and the person you care for enjoy.

For example, you may spend time in the garden, call a friend or family member, reading, listen to music, or watch a television show or film. 

If you are self-isolating but the person you care for is not living with you, there are some things you can do to continue to support them:

  • It is important to stay connected with friends and family as much as possible during this time. Visitors aren’t allowed but keeping in touch with friends and family over the phone, WhatsApp Video Call, Facetime or Skype can be very helpful.

  • Write out a care plan for activities to ensure that activities are consistent for the individual, particularly if there are different people sharing caring responsibilities.
  • Stay in touch via phone, WhatsApp Video Call, Facetime or Skype to show the person living with dementia that you are available and still supporting them.

For Family, Friends or Trusted Neighbours

Do not visit if you have any signs or symptoms of illness. 

If you know someone living with dementia who is self-isolating you may be able to help with tasks such as grocery shopping, collecting medications or dropping off books or jigsaw puzzles.

Many residential facilities have gone into lockdown and have restricted visitors in response to coronavirus. These procedures are in place to protect residents from visitors who may be carrying the virus, but as a family member, it can be difficult if you are unable to see your loved one. 

If you are in this situation you can stay in contact by phone, WhatsApp, email, FaceTime or Skype. Let the person know that you’re thinking of them and encourage others to do so as well. 

You can also ask the care staff if they can keep you up to date with regular updates if your loved one with dementia isn’t able to engage with phone/video calls.  

5 Ideas for Ways to Pass The Time During Self-Isolation

  1. It is very important to stay as active as possible during isolation. Try some gentle exercises around the house or garden, and if that is not possible, you can even do some gentle seated exercises.
  2. Stay in contact with others by phone, WhatsApp, email, FaceTime or Skype.
  3. Reading books and magazines, listening to music, knitting, watching tv and listening to the radio may help. 
  4. Consider sensory experiences such as hand, neck and foot massages, Coin sorting, popping bubble wrap or smelling flowers in the garden. 
  5. If you have an iPad or Android tablet you can install a range of two-player games such as Tic Tac Toe that are designed to enhance communication and encourage positive social interactions between people with dementia, their carers and families.