Covid 19 continues to impact on the daily lives of us all, no matter where we are located in the world. It not only impacts on our personal lives but our work lives and the services we would normally take for granted.
So what impact has Covid 19 had on delivery of services by the DSDC to families living with dementia?
The DSDC has been running face to face Dementia Education workshops for family carers and volunteers in Scotland since successfully securing funding in 2017. The present funding was awarded to run workshops up to the end of 2021 predominantly covering rural Scotland and the Islands. The workshops help families start to understand dementia and the impact it may have on the person. They provide practical hints and tips which may be helpful when supporting someone living with dementia, a greater understanding of the differing types of dementia and how dementia can impact on the person while acknowledging the environment can also impact on how the person may present. The workshops emphasise the importance of seeing the person and not just the label of dementia with the aim of the workshops being to promote an improved quality of life for the person living with dementia and those supporting them.
The workshops have also been about bringing people together who often feel alone and at times isolated in their caring role, allowing for the sharing of experiences and networking. The workshops also address the importance of communication and possible causes of changes in behaviour for example the environment and consideration of the perspective of the person living with dementia and therefore supporting the person to have the opportunity to live as well as possible, promoting wellbeing and quality of life.
So what happens when we can no longer deliver the face to face events due to Covid 19?
Over the last few months we have all had to adjust the way we work and it has been no different for staff at the DSDC. Working from home and developing new ways of how we can deliver much needed support for families living with dementia.
A phone call service has been established through negotiation with partners from the workshop project and the DSDC has introduced a weekly service for those referred for support during the pandemic. This service provides a listening ear, offering advice and support where appropriate and practical solutions that may help to address some of the issues being experienced. This interim service occurs on a Wednesday as an additional support mechanism whilst other support services such as day care and befriending services are on hold or have had to adjust due to the impact of Covid-19.
An online workshop is also in the process of being piloted, working with a partner organisation in Aviemore. The organisation had developed online carer support groups, however they recognised that the DSDC input was valuable to help meet the need for families in gaining the necessary understanding of dementia enabling their ability to support their loved one during the pandemic.
The face to face workshop runs over a 4 hour period from 11am – 3pm including lunch this required review and therefore the online programme content has been adapted running over three 1 hour sessions linking with family carers in their own home via an online platform. This has been made possible by the partner organisation providing links to the families on the day who then join the session using the link at the negotiated time. The sessions comprise of a short presentation covering one of the topics from the initial workshops with time allocated for discussion, feedback so far has been positive.
Moving forward it is likely this type of online facilitation of workshops will be available for the partner organisations who had face to face workshops rescheduled due to Covid 19. It has increased the potential to reach even further afield and provide flexibility for those who for many reasons may not be able to attend face to face, but when it is safe to do so, offer the face to face component which many people find more beneficial.