We are pleased to announce Alzheimer Scotland has established a new Action on Rights team, funded by the Scottish Government.

Throughout the pandemic, our frontline staff and 24 hour Freephone Dementia Helpline have been immersed in supporting people deal with the impact of the lockdown measures. Much of this support has been assisting people with relatives living in care homes. This has involved helping people understand the evolving care home visiting guidance, and in some cases helping to facilitate visits or meaningful contact with loved ones. During this time, we have also continued to support thousands of people with dementia and their families and carers living at home, through a combination of therapeutic interventions, online groups, wellbeing calls and home visits. This new team will build on all of our existing support and provides an extra level of dedicated support for those families with loved ones living in care homes.

The Action on Rights team will support implementation of the Scottish Government’s new Open with Care visiting guidance for care homes and 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. The Action on Rights team will be able to provide advice on the new care home visiting guidance and help families have informed discussions with the care home staff who are responsible for arranging care home visits. If needed, the team will liaise with care home staff to help facilitate meaningful visits (within any relevant restrictions) and essential visits. The team will work with families to help arrange meaningful contact in a way that avoids, or when necessary, resolves conflict.

Chief Executive Henry Simmons said: ‘I warmly welcome the support from Scottish Government to establish this vital team. For several months we have been highlighting the issues that we are dealing with through our frontline support and have advocated for an additional dedicated contact point to support families of those living in Scotland’s care homes. The disruption to care home visits is one of the most difficult and discussed aspects of the pandemic and has had a profound impact on both residents and their families and friends. There is a complex and difficult balance between the significant harms of coronavirus and the harms that are caused through the lack of meaningful contact between those who live in care homes and the most significant people in their lives. Families with loved ones in care homes and hospital have also faced unprecedented levels of distress and trauma, most have been unable to visit and have the opportunity for meaningful contact with their loved ones since the beginning of this pandemic. Although there has been Scottish Government guidance throughout the pandemic, very few visits - particularly indoor - have been facilitated, including essential visits. We know this is a complex issue to resolve, however care home residents and their families and friends are the unintended casualties of this pandemic. Scottish Government have agreed that another level of intervention is required to support families and friends who are experiencing the trauma because of the loss of meaningful contact with those that they love, and we welcome their support to establish the Action on Rights team to help these families’.

This service is available to anyone who has a relative or friend who is resident in a care home in Scotland. You can access the Action on Rights team by calling our 24 hour Freephone Dementia Helpline on 0808 808 3000 or emailing [email protected].