30 April update
As we enter our sixth week of lockdown, I want to update you on what Alzheimer Scotland is doing to continue to support people with dementia, their carers and families across the country during this time. As you may have read in previous updates, we have changed much of our support, including:
- Moving many of our physical groups and activities online or through telephone support, ensuring people remain connected to Alzheimer Scotland
- Providing one-to-one home support in some areas, as an alternative option for some people who used our day services
- Increasing the number of staff supporting our frontline volunteers on the 24 hour Freephone Dementia Helpline, which is a vital link for anyone living with dementia or their families.
As well as this, our supported housing team at Croftspar Place in Glasgow continue their 24 hour support to the tenants living there and making sure all families are as connected as possible. Our local Dementia Advisors, Community Activity Organisers, Volunteer Coordinators, Volunteers , Link Workers and all of our Locality Support Staff are continuing to support many thousands of people throughout Scotland and we are pleased that this type of alternative support has worked very well for the majority of people.
It seems quite clear to us that in the coming months, as some of the current lockdown measures change, people over the age of 70 (relevant to many of the people we support) will likely be asked to continue to self-isolate and remain at home. Alzheimer Scotland supports the measures that have been put in place in order to tackle the spread of coronavirus. We admire the way that many of the people we know and support and their families have dealt with this, and endured the loss of social contact, formal supports and connection to our local services.
However, through conversations with my local colleagues, our volunteers and with the high number of people getting in touch about their concerns over the implications of further potential long term social isolating measures, we are acutely aware that more needs to be done. We recognise and acknowledge that for some people this is starting to significantly impact on the person living with dementia and their carers. In our view, we need to develop a safe form of extra support for those people finding this simply too difficult to sustain on their own for much longer.
That is why, as part of the dialogue on how we move through this next phase of dealing with the virus and lockdown measures, we have written to the Scottish Government to seek permission and agreement to open up our Dementia Resource Centres. This would be in order to provide the opportunity for one or two people at any one time to attend a local centre and participate in individual therapeutic activity. Furthermore, it would also provide carers and families with a much-needed short period of respite. This will require the highest level of safe social distancing practice and cross infection controls and we are confident that our local staff and volunteer teams can do this.
We believe that a small level of extra support such as this will go a long way to helping balance the needs of people with dementia and their families whilst at the same time supporting the ongoing measures to tackle coronavirus.
If agreed, it will take a few weeks before we can take this step, however I wanted to let you know what our plans are and to keep you informed of what we are doing to ensure we provide the best possible support to you and your family during this time. Please get in touch with your local Dementia Resource Centre or our Helpline (0808 808 3000) if this is something you would be interested in using or supporting, and we will keep you updated with progress as we go forward.
In the meantime, I hope you keep safe and well and please do not hesitate to get in touch with us if we can help you in anyway.
6 April update:
Alzheimer Scotland have been working hard to move many of our groups and activities online. Our digital support groups, such as carer support, are now up and running. You can find out more about them by getting in touch with your local Dementia Resource Centre.
In the coming weeks we’ll also have a suite of videos on our website demonstrating activities you and your loved ones can take part in, such as gentle exercise and reminiscence. We really hope that this change to our support will ensure you, and your family, remain connected to Alzheimer Scotland during this period of social isolation.
24 March update:
In line with the most recent UK and Scottish Government advice, and in order to do what we can to keep people safe, all Alzheimer Scotland staff and volunteers will now be using their home as their work base for the foreseeable future. During this critical period all of our office bases and Dementia Resource Centres will be closed, however I want to reassure you that the organisation has not stopped working and we will be continuing to support as many people with dementia and their families as possible throughout this crisis.
We have increased the level of support available through our 24 hour Freephone Dementia Helpline, supporting our frontline volunteers with the addition of a central support team who will be able to deal with any complex enquiries and requests for local support. This team will link in with our Dementia Advisors and local colleagues who will provide follow up advice and support if required. So, if you need any help accessing things like groceries and medication, need information and emotional support or are experiencing feelings of isolation and just want to talk to someone, then we will be here for you 24 hours a day. Please do not hesitate to call us on 0808 808 3000.
For the people we support in our Day Services we are seeking agreement with local partners and commissioners to convert this into a home support service for those people who are in greatest need and we are working to ensure that we have all the necessary safeguards and agreements in place to start this in the very near future. In the meantime, we will be keeping in regular telephone contact with everyone who used this service and offer our help in any way we can.
Along with this we are putting plans in place to move many of our community groups and activities online. We know that these groups are often a lifeline for people with dementia, their carers and families and we are doing our best to make sure you can access them, albeit in a different way. This will include having a daily online surgery where you can come online and ask questions, which will be answered by an Alzheimer Scotland staff member.
We realise that not everyone will be able to access this online support and, as well as our Helpline being available, all of our local telephone contacts will be in operation. If you have any questions for our local team or need some information please use the existing contact numbers you have and we will do our best to help.
Our aim is to make sure that nobody faces dementia alone, and in these very difficult times I want to reassure the people we support living with dementia, their families and carers, our members and our many supporters that we will do all that we can to achieve this.