Coronavirus (Covid-19) Update
We are eager to keep you all updated on the Coronavirus (Covid-19) and to share any information that we have with you when we have it.
Our coordination team are meeting on a regular basis to monitor developments closely and we are working closely with each department.
Based on HSE advice on the protection of vulnerable people and to keep our staff and volunteers safe, we have decided to postpone a number of our supports and services including Day Care Centres, face to face Support Groups, Social Clubs, Alzheimer Cafes and face-to-face Family Carer Training until further notice.
Due to the Covid-19 public health emergency, respite services provided in the Orchard Respite Centre in Blackrock, Co Dublin will be temporarily suspended from Friday, 27th March 2020. The service will be resumed once we are clear of the current Covid-19 emergency. Be assured that the HSE, the ASI and our service provider, Mowlam Healthcare, are fully committed to resuming services as soon as possible.
Services still operating
The Alzheimer Society of Ireland is still supporting people with dementia and their families as our Home Care; Dementia Advisers; National Helpline, Online Family Carer Training, Online Support Groups for Family Carers and Alternative Activity Therapy and are all running, our administration staff are operating from their homes across the country and in addition we are looking at new ways of providing ASI support to our clients and their families.
Our Home Care Service offers dementia specific, person centred care and our trained staff work with clients to ensure that we meet your needs. For more information on this service click here
Our Dementia Advisers work with people with dementia, their families and carers to provide a highly responsive and individualised information and signposting service. For more information on this service click here
For practical information and emotional support or information on our supports and services contact The Alzheimer Society of Ireland National Helpline which is open six days a week Monday to Friday 10am–5pm and Saturday 10am–4pm on 1800 341 341 or email email@example.com Website/Live Chat: here
The National Helpline is expanding with a new free call-back service which offers people with dementia and family carers the opportunity to book a 1:1 session with a Dementia Nurse or a Dementia Adviser during the COVID-19 public health emergency. To make an appointment call the Helpline on 1800 341 341 or click here for more information.
All of our online courses are continuing and will continue as normal. If you would like to apply to attend our Home Based Care-Home Based Education programme in the future, please click here for more information.
We have recently launched a new Online Support Group for Family Carers of People with Dementia to help alleviate the increasing pressure points on family carers during Covid-19. For more information click here.
Alternative Activity Therapy is a new temporary service for people living with dementia and their family carers during the COVID-19 crisis. Due to the necessary temporary closure of our day services we wanted to extend our reach to those who availed of our day care services nationally. At the moment within this project, the team are only offering the Social calls/Activity Engagement Calls and the Activity packs to those who availed of Day Care pre-Covid 19. More information available by clicking here.
We will be reviewing these steps as new information and guidance becomes available from the HSE and Department of Health about Covid-19.
Our main priority is to provide support and advice to people with dementia as this situation evolves.
We are all in this together and can all play a part in this effort in our communities.
Representing people living with dementia and carers during Covid-19
The ASI is concerned that the health impact on people living with dementia and family carers is not being adequately considered in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
We have said publicly both via national media and directly to the Minister of Health that our organisation awaits guidelines on the re-introduction of services. We have offered to ‘pilot’ a reopened dementia day service or services based on proposals we have already submitted to the HSE / National Dementia Office. We have expressed that we see an urgent need to reopen based on the stress and desperation we are hearing daily from families in the absence of the availability of community supports and services outside of the home. Indeed we know that some people who attended our daycare have already transitioned to nursing home care over the past weeks due to the impact the absence of services has had both on the deterioration of their dementia and on the family carer’s health and ability to cope. This is very concerning.
We are deeply concerned that dementia has not been included specifically in data collection or public messaging and we are alarmed at the lack of emphasis placed on the complex needs of those living with dementia, whether in the community or in residential settings.
We are working to address the invisibility of dementia as we move beyond the “emergency” planning for Covid-19. We are working to ensure that dementia is given the consideration it deserves in terms of public health policy, research into the impact and future planning of it with regards to Covid-19 and to prioritise the issuing of guidelines for the reopening of services and supports for people and their families.’ Below is work we are engaging in to campaign for people living with dementia and their families during Covid-19:
- We have reached out to the new Minister for Health, Minister for State with responsibility for Mental Health and Older People and the Minister for Children, Disability, Equality and Integration to request meetings with them.
- Meetings have been held with representatives from Sinn Féin, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and most recently with the (now former) Minister for Health Simon Harris to highlight the personal impact of Covid-19 on people with dementia and their family carers.
- We continue to work with our colleagues in Alzheimer Europe and Alzheimer’s Disease International both to raise questions about the invisibility of dementia during Covid19 to the World Health Organisation, and also in compiling evidence, reports and position papers on the issue.
- We are also seeking support from TD’s to raise Parliamentary Questions with regard to the guidance around services reopening.
- Head of Advocacy and Public Affairs, Tina Leonard appeared on Drive-time on Friday 12th June to highlight the lack of focus being given to the needs of people with dementia and the lack of public health guidance in relation to the reopening of essential services and support for people with dementia. Listen back by clicking here.
- We have just launched the second in a series of research being conducted with people with dementia and family carers about the impact that the closure of services and supports have had on their lives. This research has been sent to relevant Government Departments as well as the National Dementia Office. More information on this research piece is available here.
- Members of ASI staff and from our Dementia Carers Campaign Network attended a consultative forum hosted by the Medical Council of Ireland about the reopening of non Covid care services. We have also provided a written submission to them on this.
- A written submission was prepared for the Oireachtas Committee on Covid-19 with specific regard to nursing homes. Click here to read.
- A written submission was also provided to the Nursing Homes Expert Panel. Click here to read.
- A letter was sent to the Minister for Health and all Party leaders signed by colleagues in the policy, academia, research, service provider and medical fields to highlight the omission of dementia in many realms such as public health guidance, research investment, policy development and general media in the area of Covid-19 and to emphasise the urgency for dementia to now be included.
Useful resources for people with dementia and their families during COVID-19
The Alzheimer Society of Ireland’s Dementia Advisory Services team have prepared some information resources. The resources are for people living with dementia or at home caring for a person living with dementia and are experiencing less social contact. We hope you will find these resources helpful during these times of uncertainty.
We have also linked to external resources from partner organisations on a range of topics which we hope you find useful.
● Vaccines for COVID-19
The COVID-19 vaccine will offer you protection from COVID-19 (coronavirus).
People who are most at risk from COVID-19 are getting the vaccine first.
This includes people aged 65 years and older who live in long-term care facilities and frontline healthcare workers.
The HSE have produced summary information to help people understand more about the vaccine – please click HERE
● People with Dementia
People over 65 who live in long-term care facilities have begun to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The next groups to be offered COVID-19 vaccines are:
People aged 70 and older (group 3)
People aged 65-69, prioritising people with medical conditions which put them at high risk of severe disease (group 5)
It is important to note that conditions which make you a priority member of group 5 may include dementia as part of a chronic neurological disorder but dementia is not explicitly included in this group.
The other medical conditions in group 5 which a person with dementia may also have include:
• Chronic heart disease, including hypertension with cardiac involvement
• Chronic respiratory disease, including asthma requiring continuous or repeated use of systemic steroids or with previous exacerbations requiring hospital admission
• Type 1 and 2 diabetes
• Chronic neurological disease
• Chronic kidney disease
• Body mass index (BMI) greater than 40
• Immunosuppression due to disease or treatment
• Chronic liver disease
• Down syndrome
• Having received an organ transplant
• Sickle cell disease
Deciding whether to have the vaccine or not is a choice for those who are offered it but for some people with dementia decisions on vaccination may raise issues of mental capacity and consent. You can find guidance on the issue of consent for people with dementia on the HSE website HERE
● Family carers of people with dementia
We are very concerned that family carers are not a priority group for the COVID-19 vaccination.
We know that family carers are keeping hundreds of thousands of our more vulnerable in society safe and cared for at home by providing 24/7 care. We want to ensure that they are recognised, prioritised and protected by this vaccine.
We are actively lobbying Government and opposition parties to have family carers included as a priority group for vaccinations.
● Information Resources
The HSE has developed information resources for people living with dementia and family carers. For more information, please contact your local GP.
1. COVID-19 Vaccination: What to Expect Leaflet for People with Dementia and their Families/ Supporters: This leaflet is aimed at people living with dementia and their families/supporters. It provides information on what to expect on the day of the vaccination and provides tips to prepare. Click here
2. About the COVID-19 Vaccine Picture Guide for People Living with Dementia: This resource in an accessible picture guide to the vaccination process and may be useful for medical practitioners and those describing the process to people with advanced cognitive impairment. Click here
3. COVID-19 Vaccine Visual Aid for People with Dementia: The Dementia Services Information and Development Centre have also developed an illustrative resource about the COVID-19 vaccine for people living with dementia. Click here
Tips for people with dementia and supporting people with dementia in the community
The outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid-19) may cause additional challenges for older people who may already be vulnerable and particularly those who struggle with health conditions, loneliness, and isolation. Below are some tip sheets from the Alzheimer Society of Ireland to help support people with dementia and their families in a challenging and rapidly changing situation.
- Tips for vulnerable adults
- Tips for supporting vulnerable people in the community
- Tips for nursing home restrictions
- Prepare & Care: A simple, step by step guide to caring for a loved one living with dementia
Cheeverstown Speech and language therapy unit have developed a number of easy to read guides explaining the following:
- What is COVID 19
- How to wash my hands
- How to cough & sneeze
- My day service is closed
- My respite service is closed
HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre have a new information leaflet on how to avoid COVID-19 for people at most risk of severe COVID 19 disease. It provides advice on staying safe, visitors, keeping health, cleaning and useful contact numbers. Click here to view the information leaflet.
Living well programme – This programme is suitable for people with early onset Dementia and carers. It is a research based online 6 week programme, for 2.5 hrs. per week. Where you will learn tools to manage your health and wellbeing better, in a way that is most suitable to you. There is ample support available during the programme and also with using the online platform. The programme along with all support and materials is absolutely free of charge. For more information contact Bonnie King Ph: 0879176354 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tallaght University Hospital have created some tip sheets:
The Alzheimer Society of Ireland have a variety of information available to support families to help a person living with dementia to continue to enjoy activities in and around the home. Activities can enhance our self- esteem, help us to engage with the world around us and give meaning to our lives. Click here to visit our Activities page.
Read or download the below resources:
- Activities for people living with dementia factsheet
- Engaging in Activities at Home factsheet
- Life Story Book, Memory Box, Sorting and Tidying factsheet
- 101 Activity suggestions for people living with dementia
- May 2020 Activity Pack
- June 2020 Activity Pack
- July 20202 Activity Pack
- August 2020 Activity Pack
- September 2020 Activity Pack
- October 2020 Activity Pack
- November 2020 Activity Pack
- December 2020 Activity Pack
- January 2021 Activity Pack 1
- January 2021 Activity Pack 2
- February 2021 Activity Pack 1
- February 2021 Activity Pack 2
- ASI March Calendar of Events
- March 2021 Activity Pack 1
- March 2021 Activity Pack 2
The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, DSIDC, The National Dementia Office & Understand Together have created COVID-19 Resource Hub Publications which is a collection of online resources for people with dementia, families and carers. To download click here.
DSIDC have created some helpful activity resources that may help with social isolation during COVID-19.
For more information on any of the above resources visit http://dementia.ie/
Living well with Dementia Service South Tipperary have An At Home Activities Booklet compiled by Emma O’ Brien, occupational therapist at the Memory Technology Library. This is a resource for families and carers, giving ideas for activities at home please download here.
Changes in behaviour
Dementia can affect a person’s behaviour and there can be many reasons for a change in behaviour including changes taking place in the brain, being in pain, or change in routine.
For practical tips on coping with changes in behaviour read our new factsheet Practical Tips for Changes in Behaviour by clicking here.
We have information, videos and a number of factsheets with practical tips on understanding and managing these changes in behaviour. Click here for more information.
Talking to someone can help. Bottling up your feelings, or not taking the time to address them, is likely to make things worse. You can to speak in confidence to our Helpline by calling 1800 341 341, email email@example.com or via Live Chat at www.alzheimer.ie
Additional resources for people with dementia / carers
ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports and outreach for older people on 0818 222 024 if you have concerns about your own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of an older person you know. Further information can be found here
Banking & Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) have developed ‘Guide to Cocooning During Covid-19’ advising those who find themselves at home during these uncertain times, of how they can best bank from home. Click here to read.
Care Alliance Ireland have put together some useful information on Covid-19 for Family Carers on creating a backup plan. More information available by clicking here.
Family Carers Ireland have developed an Emergency Care Plan booklet. This document was developed by Family Carers Ireland in response to the Covid-19 outbreak at the request of our members but it can be used for any emergency. Click here for further information and to access the booklet.
Visit the HSE website for up to date information and guidance on Covid-19 by clicking here
Irish Hospice Foundation have developed a Care & Inform Hub to respond to the COVID-19 emergency in an informative and compassionate way. The Care & Inform Hub includes a range of information resources and videos focusing on the themes of Grief, Funerals in Exceptional Times, Planning Ahead and a suite of Resources for Healthcare Professionals to support and guide all who need it during this time. More information available by clicking here.
Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute have created a number of resources on supporting older people with food during COVID-19.
- Supporting older people with food during COVID-19: Advice for family, friends, neighbours and volunteers
- Keeping well during COVID-19:Information for older people. Stock cupboard ideas.
- Keeping well during COVID-19: Information for older people. Accessing food.
Mental Health Ireland have a section on their website called Minding Our Mental Health during COVID-19 which has articles, videos, and tips sheets all available by clicking here.
Supports available from organisations in Ireland during COVID-19
There are a number of organisations across the country who are working to support vulnerable people, including people with dementia at these challenging times. Click here to find out more