Lockdown ‘really tough’ on care home residents who fear loved ones have died

Some care home residents have been left fearing their loves ones have died due to the enforced separation of lockdown, a Shetland social worker has said.

Louise Irvine said the mental health of care home residents was one of the most challenging aspects of working during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“With them not being able to see their family, it’s been really tough on them,” she said.

“For a lot of them, because of dementia, they don’t really understand.

“They think their relatives have passed on.

“It’s difficult to get that across to someone who doesn’t have that comprehension.”

Ms Irvine was being quizzed by NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson about the impact of Covid-19 during his weekly Facebook broadcast yesterday evening (Wednesday).

When asked what the hardest part of the crisis had been, she spoke of the emotional toll of palliative care.

“When you have folk at that stage and you’re restricting their movements and you can’t have the whole family coming in that’s really tough.

“Saying to the family you’ll have to pick and choose who can come in.”

Despite the challenges, Anne Marie Smith, team leader at Edward Thomason and Taing Support Services, said her staff had been fortunate compared with other parts of the country.

“Generally we’re really lucky with the resources we have,” she said.

“We have really good community spirt, we’ve seen the staff’s willingness to work with us.”

She also highlighted the use of technology such as Facebook and Skype to enable relatives to stay in touch.

Mr Dickson also praised Shetland’s care home staff.

“This is an absolutely vital sector in terms of looking out for the most vulnerable.

He said the care home sector was his “biggest concern” going into the pandemic.

But he said carers had been “phenomenal”.


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