I hope this finds you, and your loved ones, safe and well. Whilst Scotland remains in lockdown, there have been some welcome developments since my last update. The continuing success of the vaccine roll-out is providing a ray of light and we must say a huge thank you to the dedicated teams across the country who are working tirelessly to deliver the vaccines as quickly as possible. It is a relief to hear of the falling death rates in care homes reported last week. The impact on Scotland’s care homes remains deeply troubling and our thoughts remain with the families and friends who have lost someone close to them. All of our local teams and Helpline volunteers have done their best to support many people through this devastating time and for many months now we have been working hard to secure the extra levels of support outlined below:
• As of 24th February our new Action on Rights team funded by the Scottish Government, will become operational. The Action on Rights team will offer emotional and practical support to families and friends of people living in care homes and who are experiencing high levels of anxiety and trauma as a result of the lack of meaningful contact. This service is not solely for people with dementia. If you have a family member or friend living in a care home, irrespective of their health conditions, you can contact our Action on Rights team. Find out more here.
• Many people will experience significant stress and trauma for many months to come, as a result of the pandemic. In recognition of this, we are in the process of recruiting experienced and qualified counsellors to become part of our new National Dementia Counselling Service, which will provide professional counselling for people with dementia and for families and carers of people living with dementia who are adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Both the Action on Rights team and the National Dementia Counselling Service will work alongside our 24 hour Freephone Dementia Helpline (0808 808 3000).
• In line with the new Route Map out of lockdown, we are currently progressing with plans and negotiations for the safe reopening of our face to face support in the community and in our Dementia Resource Centres. All of our frontline staff have been offered the vaccine, as will soon be the case for the majority of people we support. We are therefore seeking approval to commence our small-scale day services from March, and from April onwards we aim to reinstate face to face visits with our Link Workers and Dementia Advisors. All being well, we hope that small scale community groups and activities can commence in May and June. We look forward to bringing you an update on these plans next month. In the meantime, we will continue with all of our online support, telephone support and essential wellbeing visits. We are aware that some people might not yet have received their vaccination or might be finding it difficult to get to their local centre. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if this is a problem for you and we will do our best to help support you with this.
The Independent Review of Adult Social Care report, led by Derek Feeley, was published earlier this month. The report has clearly been informed by people who have experiences of the social care system and we are pleased that people with dementia, families and carers were given the opportunity to contribute. Whilst we appreciate there are differing points of views, and there are many finer details which need agreed, we fully subscribe to the recommendations around a National Care Service. We were pleased to note the Cabinet Secretary also endorsed this on behalf of the Scottish Government during a debate in Parliament. We are delighted to see the recommendation to end non-residential social care charges and to tackle the inequality that we have exposed in charges for people with dementia living in residential care by increasing the levels of Free Personal and Nursing Care.
Meantime, the Scottish Government have proposed an above-inflation increase of 7.5% in the Free Personal and Nursing Care payments which are paid towards the costs of those living in care homes. The proposed change should mean that from 1 April 2021, many people living in a care home will see an increase in the Free Personal Care and Nursing Care payments they are entitled to. This news is warmly welcomed and brings us one step closer to achieving Fair Dementia Care. It demonstrates that, with political will, our proposal to increase Free Personal and Nursing Care payments to a level that reflects the actual cost of care can help end this inequality and that this can be done quickly within the existing legal framework.
As many of you will be aware, we have campaigned for two years to ensure people with advanced dementia have equality of access to the health care they need, and that the health care they receive is free at the point of delivery, on a par with people who are living with other progressive and terminal illnesses. The Independent Review of Adult Social Care report recommendations, and this recent increase proposal, are clearly positive outcomes for Fair Dementia Care. But people with advanced dementia simply don’t have time to wait for these to come to fruition. They need and deserve action now. This is why the Fair Dementia Care pledge is our campaign for the 2021 Scottish Elections, and we will bring you more details on that shortly.
As always, if you need information or emotional support, our Freephone Dementia Helpline is here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (0808 808 3000). In the meantime, please keep safe.