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