Thank you for contacting me about dementia and coronavirus.
I imagine how challenging it must be for families caring for loved ones during this difficult time, particularly those who have needed to take on extra responsibilities. I know that the Government is working closely with system partners, stakeholders, local authorities and the care sector to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on people with dementia and to identify what additional actions may be required to ensure safety, and access to the right support and care.
Of course, visiting is a central part of care home life and it is crucially important for maintaining health and wellbeing and quality of life for residents, but there is a balance to strike. The Government’s aim throughout this pandemic has been to keep people in care homes safe and well.
I know this is a frustrating time, but we now can see that there is an end in sight. The biggest vaccination rollout in our history is ongoing and I am encouraged that the NHS's reasonable expectation is that by the middle of February, should all go well, the first vaccine dose will have been offered to everyone in the four top priority groups. I am encouraged that the vaccine has now been offered to residents at all eligible care homes, which is an important step towards making it safe to allow visits again.
I share the Government’s commitment to bringing an end to the pain of separation and to help care homes bring families and loved ones together. Recognising the importance of visiting for the wellbeing of residents and those who visit them, I know that the Government is working to enable more visiting in care homes as soon as it is safe to do so.
I am glad to report that the vaccination programme is proceeding well across Worcestershire, including in care homes and there is now extensive testing even if you have no symptoms to reassure you about whether you are clear of Covid. I encourage people to get vaccinated and tested, especially those who work in the social care sector. I am also aware that many care homes are now allowing visits and I urge you to keep in close touch with your care home provider if you have loved ones receiving residential dementia care.
Thank you for contacting me on this important matter.