In the past few weeks, things have changed so rapidly it was difficult to keep up with them. Looking back now only five weeks, many of us surely didn’t think we would be in the situation we are in today. National (almost global) lockdown, and extended self-isolation periods for the most vulnerable in our society. That does include older people, including those living with dementia.
When the lockdown was imminent, and self-isolation was recommended, many unpaid carers I spoke to both as part of my research and as public advisers were seriously concerned about the potential impact Covid-19 could have on the social care system and social support services. Fast-forward a couple of weeks, and care homes have been closed off, with severe issues of residents contacting and spreading the virus. Staff become infected easily too, which places huge limitations on how care can be provided. More so, unpaid carers are in many cases not allowed to visit their loved ones at the care home anymore.
With some of my work on hold, pretty much all of my research has, within the space of less than two weeks, turned to Covid-19 dementia research. I have honestly never written a funding application in less than 24 hours, and then, 3 days later, we found out it was funded! Fast-forward to the end of that week, and ethics was approved for the first of two dementia projects as part of this study!
The first project is a qualitative telephone interview study, looking at the experiences of people with dementia and unpaid carers and the effects that social support service closures have had on their lives. We have now fully recruited, and are just finishing up talking to 50 people (we’ve already spoken to 35 people with dementia and carers).
Our second study, an online survey, is now live! Our online survey launched on Friday, and we are interested in how Covid-19 related social support service closures affects the well-being of people with dementia, unpaid carers, and older people in the long-term. Participants are asked to complete the survey three times (Week 1, 6, and 12). Also recruiting via Join Dementia Research (JDR), we are actively seeking participants over the next coming months. Since the launch of the survey and going live on JDR, already over 100 people have taken part, but we need to hear from many more!
Dr Clarissa Giebel is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Liverpool and NIHR CLAHRC North West Coast. She has been working in dementia care research for over 7 years focusing her research on on helping people with dementia live at home independently for longer.
You can follow Clarissa on Twitter Follow @ClarissaGiebel