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  • E-Newsletter - 29 May 2020

    E-Newsletter - 29 May 2020

    Here is this week’s round-up of dementia care news, stories and comment. This week's topics include new research evidence from the UK Dementia Research Institute on why covid-19 is urgently needed in care homes and reports on new smartphone apps to support with dementia care. It is an editor's selection which we hope you will enjoy.

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  • Daily Sparkle smartphone app teams up with videolink

    Daily Sparkle smartphone app teams up with videolink

    03.06.20 The Daily Sparkle reminiscence service has joined forces with Person Centred Software to develop a smartphone app particularly suited to meet the needs of care home residents isolated in their rooms. The aim of the app is to encourage relatives to engage with residents in fun activities while talking with them over Person Centred Software’s Relatives Gateway video link. “These interactions can not only foster the warm feelings of being connected but can also provide vital mental and emotional stimulation for the resident,” the two organisations said. “Since the early days of covid-19, the Daily Sparkle app has been specifically developed to meet the unique needs of care home residents who are isolated in their rooms.” To sign up for the free Relatives Gateway visit www.personcentredsoftware.com/covid19response and for the Daily Sparkle app contact melony@dailysparkle.co.uk

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  • Overall care home deaths rise, but downturn in Covid-19 figures

    Overall care home deaths rise, but downturn in Covid-19 figures

    02.06.20 Figures released last week by the Office for National Statistics show there were 4,461 deaths in care homes in England and Wales in the week ending May 15. It was an increase on the previous week and exceeds the five-year average number of deaths at this time of year by 2,468. However, deaths attributed to covid-19 as opposed to other conditions fell slightly compared with the previous week. “People with dementia have been the worst hit by coronavirus, accounting for a quarter of deaths so far,” said Alzheimer’s Society head of policy Gavin Terry. “It’s incredibly concerning to see today’s figure that care home deaths are still running at twice the expected number. We know there has been a sharp rise in dementia deaths as well as those from covid-19, and fearful phone calls are coming in thick and fast from families of people with dementia through Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Connect support line.

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  • JDC's webinar focuses on practical steps including residents' rights

    JDC's webinar focuses on practical steps including residents' rights

    01.06.20 Residents’ rights during the pandemic was emphasised by speakers in JDC's first ever webinar this week. Transmitted live on Wednesday and available here, the webinar focused on effective, practical care and support for people living with dementia in care homes during and after the covid-19 pandemic. “From the early days there were stories of people being told they were having DNARs signed [do not resuscitate notices signed without their consent], [and] told they weren’t going to hospital, full stop,” independent nurse consultant Lynne Phair told viewers. “It’s really important that moving forward everyone is very confident about what people’s rights are and that the MCA [Mental Capacity Act] has not been affected by the Coronavirus Act."

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  • Care homes call for financial help

    Care homes call for financial help

    01.06.20 Care providers such as care homes continue to struggle financially even as deaths from coronavirus start to come down and the government pumps extra money into the system. Mike Padgham, who runs care homes in the north of England and chairs the campaigning Independent Care Group (ICG), said financial aid must be given directly to care providers to prevent “many from going under as they battle coronavirus”. He called for the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to waive or refund 2020-21 registration fees, government support to be delivered via the CQC, and a government indemnity for care providers who are sued over covid-19 deaths.

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  • UK DRI study points to need for repeated testing

    UK DRI study points to need for repeated testing

    29.05.20 Academics from the UK Dementia Research Institute (DRI) have urged care homes to conduct comprehensive and repeated testing to manage coronavirus infections. The DRI undertook a coronavirus outbreak investigation in four London nursing homes, finding high rates of infection and death from the virus. In particular, 26% of residents died between March and May, three times the rate in previous years. High rates of coronavirus infection running at 40% were detected and 60% of those infected were either asymptomatic or had atypical symptoms. Professor David Sharp, investigation joint senior author, said: “Dealing with an outbreak of this nature in a nursing home presents many challenges. We found that a very high proportion of those testing positive had no symptoms, or different symptoms from those expected. This makes it extremely difficult for staff to recognise illness and take appropriate measures to protect those they care for."

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  • Lancet paper sheds light on links between diabetes and dementia

    Lancet paper sheds light on links between diabetes and dementia

    29.05.20 A paper in the Lancet aims to cast light on the links between type 2 diabetes and dementia, building knowledge of the connection and improving practice. Awareness of the link between the two conditions is “poor”, says the article summary, which says that there are few recommendations to guide clinicians on how to approach cognitive dysfunction in people with diabetes. The paper, in Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, looks at issues relating to screening and diagnosis of cognitive impairment and dementia in people with type 2 diabetes, as well as management of diabetes in people with cognitive dysfunction and emerging therapies for prevention. Link here

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  • Cash grants to help charities meet high demand for their services

    Cash grants to help charities meet high demand for their services

    28.05.20 At least one dementia charity will be among the beneficiaries of £22 million in cash grants to help charities meet increased demand for their services. Part of a £750 million funding package for charities previously announced by the government, the grants will go to a broad range of health charities providing “vital support and advice”. Alzheimer’s Society was named by the government as one of the recipients. “This epidemic has had huge consequences for us all, but for some it has been especially difficult, leading to loneliness, anxiety and other mental health challenges,” said health minister Nadine Dorries. Alzheimer’s Society has said that its losses as a result of the pandemic could be as high as £30 million.

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  • Leading charity calls for action on high dementia death rates from virus

    Leading charity calls for action on high dementia death rates from virus

    27.05.20 Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) has called for urgent action after it emerged that nearly one in five of people dying from the virus also had dementia. The charity said that, of the 22,332 patients who died after 31 March when pre-existing conditions began to be reported, 4,048 of them had dementia. “While it’s still unclear what’s behind the link between covid-19 and dementia, we do know that people with dementia are more vulnerable to certain infections,” said ARUK policy and public affairs director Samantha Benham-Hermetz. “Age is the biggest risk factor for dementia, and with older people also more likely to experience severe symptoms from covid-19, this may partly explain the high number of deaths. It is also possible that people with dementia may be more likely to have been exposed to the virus due to high rates of infection in care homes."

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  • Care homes had 'little alternative' but to take in Covid-19 patients

    Care homes had 'little alternative' but to take in Covid-19 patients

    26.05.20 Mike Padgham, who runs a Yorkshire care home group, gives a candid interview to the Financial Times in which he describes how there was “little alternative” but to take in hospital patients whether or not they had covid-19. “We don’t get paid for empty beds,” Padgham is quoted as saying in the FT. “We had to admit people with covid-19 to stay afloat – but whether it’s right is a moral question.” Padgham, who is managing director of the Saint Cecilia care home group and chair of the Independent Care Group, says that the lack of new residents coming in from the community – and with the cost of personal protective equipment and wages surpassing income – meant that he had to follow government advice issued in April to take in hospital patients even if they had not been tested for the virus.

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