Dementia: The “outcast of diseases” exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone’s lives in one way or another; whether it’s changed your style of working or even prevented you from spending time with loved ones due to the social distancing measures imposed by the UK Government. Needless to say, Coronavirus has reshaped society’s norm, which was grossly taken for granted.

While we are all swept up in our own lives and facing new challenges each and every day, it’s important to remember those lost from COVID-19, but it is equally important to consider those extremely vulnerable individuals who are often forgotten in society; those in care homes, and more specifically, those with Dementia.

Ambassadors for the Alzheimer’s Society, John and Nula Suchet were interviewed LIVE on Zoom by Seren Books, the publishers of Nula’s book ‘The Longest Farewell: James, Dementia and Me” about her late husband, James, who sadly passed away from Dementia. Nula and John both spoke about the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on dementia patients in care homes.

Nula highlighted in the interview how neglected Dementia pateints are in care homes during this pandemic. She said: “Dementia is the outcast of diseases” and with the COVID-19 pandemic, residents “are neglected, they are just abandoned because they’re not important, they don’t have a voice. I think that is what has been highlighted by the whole COVID-19 care home dilemma”.

Nula added that “I still think this won’t make an awful difference unless we as a country stand up and shout loud, we need to do a lot more for care homes and patients and dementia patients in general.”

Furthermore, John said there “needs to be more specialisation” as Dementia patients do not see a neurologist or dementia specialist, just a GP when showing symptoms of Dementia. Nula added that there is also “no palliative care for dementia patients” despite it being a terminal disease.

Nula and John also mentioned about the issue of staffing in care homes. Nula said that it is “Exhausting for carers working 8–9 hour shifts in dementia care homes as dementia patients are silent and there isn’t any feedback”. These patients have a silence and cannot converse about their past with their carers, which makes the situation even harder for both the patient and the carer when there lacks communication in Dementia care homes.

Nula believes that there is also a “lack of care for carers” as they “are grossly undertrained, unappreciated and underpaid, you can see they didn’t even have the proper PPE.”

Care workers who travel to houses can see up to 20 clients per day. This is a serious issue if they do not have correct PPE and could spread the Coronavirus further. According to the government, as of 15th May 2020, over 1.2 billion pieces of PPE equipment have been successfully delivered to health and care professionals in England. Nonetheless, more PPE equipment needs to be made available universally to health and social care professions in a quick and efficient manner.

Nula and John’s interview was engaging and emotive, highlighting some really pertinent points about the disease in general as well as how exacerbated the issue of Dementia has become due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are a relative or close friend of a person who has Dementia or has Dementia and is in a care home, support for you during this difficult time can be found at https://www.dementiauk.org/dementia-uk-coronavirus-advice/ and https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/coronavirus-covid-19

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James Mayer

James Mayer

I am a journalist based in London. I use Medium as a platform to post my own news and lifestyle stories.