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Tue, 2 June 2020

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Alzheimer’s Society fears hundreds of thousands of people with dementia in care homes being abandoned during coronavirus crisis

Kathryn Smith, Chief Operating Officer | Alzheimer’s Society

3 min read Member content

Alzheimer’s Society is calling on the Government to provide more testing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for care homes amid concerns that care homes staff and residents with dementia are being abandoned.

  • At least half of care homes reporting coronavirus cases, but testing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for staff is not routinely available
  • Alzheimer’s Society has written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care calling for a ‘clear government strategy to support residents of care homes’

More than 400,000 people are living in care homes in the UK and 70% have dementia. Many have other underlying conditions, and with 95% of people with dementia over 65, are extremely vulnerable to contracting the virus. However, testing for residents and care home staff is not routinely taking place, despite at least half of all care homes now reporting coronavirus cases.

Alzheimer’s Society has warned that social care has ‘yet again fallen to the bottom of the pile’. The charity has written to Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, to call for the following immediate steps as part of a dedicated national strategy to support care home residents and their families through the pandemic:  

  • PPE equipment must be readily available to care homes. Without it, residents’ lives are at risk.
  • Care home staff and people being discharged from hospital into care homes should be given priority testing for the virus, alongside critical NHS staff.
  • Working with technology companies, the Government should support care homes to put in place arrangements to ensure continued contact between residents and their loved ones.
  • The impact of the virus on care homes should be measured and published

Kathryn Smith, Chief Operating Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, said: Every day our Dementia Connect support line hears from people, friends and families terrified about the impact of coronavirus – people with dementia are being abandoned in care homes.  They’re being told they won’t be admitted to hospitals, they’re being asked to sign Do Not Resuscitate orders and being discharged from hospitals to care homes without being tested. At least half of care homes are reporting coronavirus cases and 70% of people in care homes have dementia –the Government must give them better support and protection. We’re asking for provision of Personal Protective Equipment and more testing: for patients discharged, care home staff and residents.  

“We can already see the devastating impact of coronavirus outbreaks in care homes, most recently yesterday the tragedy of fifteen deaths in the Castleroy Residential Home in Luton, the tragedy of thirteen deaths in a week in Burlington Court care home, the deterioration of people with dementia separated from their families, care homes struggling to cope with a drastically reduced workforce. Deaths from coronavirus in care homes are not yet being properly recorded or published. Yet again, social care and those who desperately need it have fallen to the bottom of the pile.  The Government must step in and make it clear that no-one will be abandoned to this virus simply because of their age or their dementia.”

In March alone, Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect support line received nearly 3,300 calls- around four in five were from people worried about coronavirus. The charity’s Talking Point online community has seen a 600% increase in people seeking help and advice. 


Alzheimer’s Society is here for anyone affected by dementia during the coronavirus outbreak and has launched an Emergency Appeal to ensure it can continue to support people with dementia and their families. Donations can be made online through our website HERE.

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