In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to support continued good practice around the care of people living with dementia, the National Dementia Office, in partnership with the Office of the Nursing, Midwifery Services Director in the Health Service Executive, developed a series of guidance documents for health care staff.
These documents went through national clinical approval processes in line with all COVID-19 guidance issued by the Health Service Executive and the Health Protection Surveillance Centre. The guidance was developed as one-page accessible documents to facilitate use in busy centres, particularly in Residential Care Facilities (RCF). Topics were identified by an expert advisory group. They included:
- Dementia and COVID-19 Testing Algorithm
- Dementia Resource – Advanced Care Plan Algorithm
- COVID and Dementia in RCF – Grieving in Exceptional Times
- COVID and Dementia – Non-cognitive symptoms and Isolation in RCF
- COVID and Dementia – Supporting people living in the community, resource document
To support people with dementia living at home and care partners/family members, a number of practical resources were also developed by a collaborative group comprising the National Dementia Office, the Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI), the Dementia Services Information and Development Centre, Memory Technology Resource Room Network and the Understand Together Campaign. They include:
- Dementia Weekly Planner: This provides a template for the person and their family/care provider to instigate new routines centred on activities carried out across the day.
- COVID Dementia Resource Hub: collates all online dementia resources which will be useful during the COVID crisis.
- Activities to do at home booklet: suggests activities for the person with dementia to do at home and provides hints and tips to support this.
In addition, community services adapted their services to provide support through telephone/video liaison and many went on-line e.g. virtual dementia cafe; virtual dementia social clubs, dementia inclusive choirs. In addition, Dementia Advisers operated a national phone back service. This was in addition to the ASI help-line which operates 6-days a week.
The Memory Technology Resource Rooms also developed a central line, where people could speak to an Occupational Therapist for advice on Assistive Technology and aids to support people at home.
The Understand Together communications team continue the social media plan for dementia and regularly provide updates via facebook and twitter, with resources available on www.understandtogether.ie.