Government has been warned it must re-think visiting restriction for those in care homes and with dementia to end loneliness and confusion the pandemic is having on both physical and mental health.
Tatton MP Esther McVey said nationally deaths from dementia were up 52 per cent between January and July with an additional 5,000 deaths recorded and people were struggling to understand why they were being kept apart from family.
Speaking in a debate on how Covid-19 had affected those with dementia, she told of stories of constituents who initially supported visiting restrictions but now want change and shared good practice from care homes across the constituency trying to keep families connected.
Ms McVey said: “There are grave concerns about the Government’s decision to ban almost all visits and about the lack of input from Public Health England to guide care homes’ approach to this pandemic. Like others, I have heard truly harrowing stories about how those with dementia have not been able to see family members. They feel abandoned, at a loss and confused, not having contact, conversation or physical affection. The Alzheimer’s Society says that for people with dementia, lack of social contact is not only bad for their mental health but has a significantly negative effect on the progression of their dementia.”
Ms McVey told of how Sue Jean from Knutsford has seen her mum three times since February for a total of 50 minutes and Lorraine Albiston, also of Knutsford whose mother is in a home two hours away often has visits cancelled as they are in a gazebo with no heating.
She also told how Oliver Stirk, director of Carefound Home Care in Wilmslow, had stopped pub lunches on a Sunday to control the virus and instead staff were cooking to provide alternative enjoyment, as well as helping families communicate online. Measures implemented by Sunrise of Mobberley’s general manager Lisa Burrows include an enhanced infection control programme, garden visits and dedicated visiting rooms are being introduced.
Members of Knutsford Methodist Church, who provide valuable support for carers through their Friendship Café, run by volunteers led by Paula Lambe and Eve James, were also praised.
Ms McVey added: “I know that in Tatton and across the country care workers, family members and helpers have worked tirelessly, and I put on record my thanks and appreciation to all those people.
“But we need to find ways to ensure families stay together and our most vulnerable can see people while remaining protected. One elderly constituent said something to me I will never forget ‘I want to live before I die, and at the moment, with all these confusing lockdown rules, I can’t.’”
Across Tatton as of the end of September more than 800 patients over 65 years were recorded as having dementia.
Ms McVey asked the minister to set out how Government will address the needs of people affected by dementia, their family and friends and what is in place to ensure a common approach between care homes to ensure lessons learned are shared, both positive and negative.
Concerns raised to Ms McVey by constituents Simon Brazendale from Knutsford and Victoria Caruana and Sue Kisloff from Wilmslow were raised with the minister after the debate due to time restrictions.