6 August update

I hope this update finds you and your loved ones safe and well. It is over four months since the coronavirus pandemic impacted on Alzheimer Scotland and the people who rely on our support. I know through speaking to our local teams just how difficult this period has been for so many people, with lack of access to many of the usual coping mechanisms. Whilst I am immensely proud of how Alzheimer Scotland have adapted our support and services, we have all been waiting patiently for the day that face-to-face support would be an option.

We are now beginning to see glimpses of ‘normality’. Shops, cafes and restaurants have re-opened, the shielding rules have been paused and social distancing & face-coverings have become a regular part of our routine. We welcome the recent update from the Scottish Government confirming all registered adult day centre services that wish to re-open can do so, subject to the necessary approaches. I have outlined our plans for recommencing some of our own local support and activity below:

Day services
In the next few weeks we hope to re-open our registered day services. Whilst we don’t anticipate that we will be able to run our day services with the same numbers as we had prior to coronavirus, we will work with our local commissioners to agree a safe number in line with the detailed practice and policies we have developed.

Outdoor activities
We believe that outdoor activities with a small number of participants, such as gardening and allotment groups, could take place using public health guidance and we have asked our local teams to start planning for this. This will be a gradual process and we will cautiously upscale the groups when we know it is safe to do so. These groups will be aimed at people who would normally access our previous community activity groups and Dementia Cafes independently.

Indoor activities
In our Dementia Resource Centres which do not have registered day services, we are planning to deliver safe indoor activities, again for smaller groups of people, and the local teams are in the process of scoping these out too.

I am very pleased to be at the stage where we able to consider re-opening our face-to-face support. However, we must understand that the virus is still out there and at the forefront of our plans is safety. We must do all that we can to keep you, our staff, volunteers and the public safe. Things will start slowly and on a small scale, however with the support and agreement of all the relevant Local Authorities, National Government and Public Health guidance we will build on this soon.

I would like to thank you all for your ongoing understanding of this and we will keep you as up to date as possible on local developments. In the meantime please stay safe and if you need any support from Alzheimer Scotland please do not hesitate to call our 24 hour Freephone Dementia Helpline on 0808 808 3000. 

Henry Simmons
Chief Executive

29 June update

I would like to start this update by thanking all of our supporters, staff, volunteers and members throughout Scotland who, despite the current circumstances, made Dementia Awareness Week a truly great success. Even though we are all so isolated from each other, we still came together and made the most of our opportunity to spread the word, share the good work and lay down our campaign for change and greater equality through relaunching our Fair Dementia Care campaign. Thank you all so much.

It is now over three months since our very first update on the impact of the coronavirus and, since then, the world that we live in has seen such significant changes. Despite this, we are still here for you. I am very proud of how Alzheimer Scotland’s staff and volunteers have worked incredibly hard to adapt quickly and ensure that we continue to make sure no one is on their own. Our Helpline, Dementia Advisors, Link Workers, Community Activity Organisers and local support teams continue to support thousands of people every day. Although not yet perfect or finished, the plans we had been making to develop better online support and digital connectivity were rolled out in weeks rather than years, helping many people keep connected. I really hope they are helping to make things easier and have a positive impact on your lives.

The Scottish Government recently announced that Scotland is now able to move in to phase 2 of the route map. As a result, we have had many questions about Alzheimer Scotland’s support returning to ‘normal’, especially as the world adapts to its new normal with the ease on restrictions. Unfortunately, many of the restrictions that have been lifted do not apply to our services, therefore we have to press on with our current support until we can get the go ahead to change. We are really sorry about this - we know how much these face to face services mean to the people we support. I hope it will not be too much longer.

We are also still working with the Scottish Government and seeking their agreement to re-open a small number of our Dementia Resource Centres. As I have outlined previously, this would provide the opportunity for one or two people at any one time to attend a local centre and participate in individual therapeutic activity, and also provide carers and families with a much-needed short period of respite. This proposal is under careful consideration and we remain optimistic that this will be the first form of face to face contact that we recommence in the near future. I will of course update you as soon as we are in a position to move this forward. We realise just how important and essential this support will be and we are desperately keen to increase the local support we can provide.

Towards the end of last week, the Scottish Government also announced that a phased approach to visiting people living in care homes would commence from Friday 3 July. You can read our statement here.

I would also like to highlight that we have updated our coronavirus guidance, in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland’s Dementia Nurse Consultants. The guidance has information on signs and symptoms of coronavirus, what to do if you have any symptoms and helpful tips & contacts. You can access this information here.

Finally, I hope you and your loved ones are keeping safe. If you need any information, support or just a listening ear, please contact our Freephone Dementia Helpline on 0808 808 3000 anytime or contact any of our local teams who are all still operating and will do their best to help you.

Henry Simmons

Chief Executive

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.

Best wishes

Henry Simmons
Chief Executive

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.

Best wishes

Henry Simmons

Chief Executive

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