Covid-19 - Information for care partners

As a care partner for someone living with dementia, you may well be finding this uncertain time stressful and challenging.

Make sure you regularly check the government Covid-19 website for updated advice. 

Contact your local organisation here. 

Emergency Support Plans

If you don’t already have one, preparing an emergency support plan is still really important. Emergency Support Plans contain essential information to help you and the person you care for if your routine is disrupted.

If you have difficulty filling out parts of it, a family or friend might be able to assist you by phone or email.

Get an Emergency Support Plan here

Once the Plan is completed make sure others know about the plan and where is can be found.

The impact on the person with dementia

A person with dementia may be experiencing issues relating to:

  • Changes in routines, daily activities and sleep disturbances
  • Withdrawn group and community activities
  • Lack of regular face to face contact with friends, whanau and family
  • Feeling anxious as a result of media coverage or conversations with others

For people living with dementia, this can lead to further decline in memory and understanding, and deterioration of existing cognitive problems.

A person with dementia may also find that self-isolation leads to feelings of insecurity and anxiety, which can result in increased agitation and hostility.

Declining memory and understanding can also result in poor understanding of hygiene needs, lack of cooperation with care and support and conflict with care partners.

What you can do to as a care partner:

  • Ensure that their basic needs are being met, such as food, fluids, safety and rest
  • Comfort and reassure the person using touch and words. You may find pets can also be reassuring
  • Listen to the person, try not to persuade or argue
  • Support them to access on-line activities they enjoy.

You should seek medical help immediately if there is a sudden change in consciousness, or if the person is experiencing impaired attention, disturbance in their sleep-wake cycle or any unusual sensory experiences, as these could indicate delirium.

It is also advisable to seek medical help if you have less urgent concerns about the physical health of the person, deterioration in their cognition, or a change in their behaviour or activity patterns.

Tips and suggestions help during this time

 

If you care for the person at home:

  • Regularly clean things that are handled a lot, for example, taps, door and cupboard handles, phones and TV remotes. You might be able to ask the person with dementia to assist with this as a regular activity.
  • Try and limit contact with TV, radio and newspaper items that might cause worry or anxiety for the person with dementia.
  • Looking after yourself is essential. Encourage rest periods for both of you.
  • Keep to your normal day to day routines as much as possible. Routine is often reassuring to the person with dementia and is often essential around going to bed, getting up, and mealtimes.
  • Initiate activities such as reading, doing puzzles, listening to music, knitting or gardening. Sorting old photos or doing household tasks together can also be helpful.
  • People with a religious or spiritual background may appreciate sharing a daily spiritual practice.
  • You could try setting up different activities in different rooms so that you move from one to another and there is a change of scene.
  • Stay connected with others by phone, email or video calls.
  • Ask your pharmacy to deliver medications.
  • Consider what other support is available from family members, friends or neighbours which maintains social distancing. For example, ask them to ring or message you regularly.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask – many people want to help but don’t always know how to. 

Here are some ways you might be able to encourage the person you support to engage in good hand hygiene:

  • Put signs with pictures on the bathroom/toilet window or wall reminding everyone to wash their hands with soap for 20 seconds.
  • Use hand sanitizer (alcohol based) if you are concerned that good hygiene is not being practiced.
  • Stand with the person and wash your hands as well to encourage them.
  • Write ‘No’ on the back of their hands to remind them not to touch their face.

If the person you care for is in residential care (rest home and hospitals):

The Ministry of Health has provided guidance to these facilities to reduce the transmission of Covid-19. The guidance is for the health and safety of the residents and the staff and it is important that the public follow the recommendations.

  • Check with the facility as to what their procedures are for managing Covid-19, ensuring that contact information is up to date for you and others.
  • Understand that the facility will not be allowing visitors - this is to protect the residents and you must follow their advice.
  • You should ask the facility what other means there are of making contact, for example a phone call daily, sending an email which will be read to the person in care.
  • If this is not possible, talk to the facility about how you can get updates and about how you can pass messages on.
  • Think about ways you can provide support from a distance, for example emailing family photos to the person in care.