Covid-19: National study launched into the effects of social service closures on older people, people with dementia and unpaid carers

Covid-19: National study launched into the effects of social service closures on older people, people with dementia and unpaid carers Banner Image

Participants sought for key research project

A new national study involving a University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) professor has been launched to look at the impact of social service closures due to coronavirus, on the lives of older people, people with dementia and unpaid carers.

An expert team of NHS, voluntary and academic collaborators from across the country have been brought together to conduct this novel UK wide study.

The study, led by Dr Clarissa Giebel from the University of Liverpool and conducted in collaboration with UCLan’s Professor Dame Caroline Watkins, Lancaster University, University of Bradford, and UCL, will examine the impact of self-isolation on wellbeing of the older people, those living with dementia and unpaid carers.

We want to ensure that the voice of unpaid carers of people with dementia still continues to influence policy, research and practice during this critical time.

People living with dementia and older people can be heavily reliant on accessing support groups, social activities in the community, befrienders, day care centres, or singing and dancing groups to stay socially active and get the support that health care services cannot provide. However, due to Covid-19 these face-to-face services are now temporarily closed, leaving huge gaps in support and care needs.

Dr Giebel commented: “We want to hear from older people, unpaid carers and people living with dementia, either alone or in a supported context. They can have their voice heard in our research and the results will be put in front of decision makers.”

Professor Dame Watkins said: “It is vital that we give people in vulnerable situations the opportunity to tell us about the challenges they face, how their home situation has changed, and how they are coping.  This important survey will help us to understand the impact that COVID-19 has on older people, and those that support them in their day to day lives.”

The study can be done online or via the phone and requires a commitment of 20-30 minutes three times over a period of 12 weeks and closes to new registrations on 31 July 2020.

The project has already gained support from key service providers such as the National Museums Liverpool’s award-winning dementia awareness programme – House of Memories is sharing the new study through its networks across the UK to reach people living with dementia, and their carers.

Carol Rogers, Director of House of Memories at National Museums Liverpool, said: “This vital research by the University of Liverpool will helps us to fully understand the impact of Covid-19 on families living with and affected by dementia during this difficult time of social isolation. We want to extend the reach of this study to our audiences to ensure their voices are heard and consider how we can adapt House of Memories’ programme based on the research.”

Anna Gaughan, Chief Executive at Life Story Network, added: “As from 1 April local authorities have the power to implement more stringent cuts, further reducing their support for unpaid carers under the emergency Covid-19 Act.

“Taking part in this vital research and sharing your experience of the impact of these cuts will help inform the six-month review that the government has committed to undertaking.”

“We want to ensure that the voice of unpaid carers of people with dementia still continues to influence policy, research and practice during this critical time.”

The project is being conducted in partnership with a large number of NHS Trusts and front-line care support providers, including Mersey Care NHS Trust, North West Boroughs NHS Trust, Lancashire & South Cumbria NHS Trust, Tide Carers, The Brain Charity, National Museums Liverpool, SURF Liverpool, Lewy Body Society, Liverpool and Wigan Dementia Action Alliance, Sefton Older People’s Forum, and Me2U Day Care Centre.

The study is funded by the University of Liverpool’s Covid-19 Strategic Research Fund and supported by the National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration North West Coast (NIHR ARC NWC).

Call for participants: If you are an unpaid carer of someone living with dementia, an older person (aged 65 and above), or living with dementia yourself either alone or in a supported context and want to take part in the study, we want to hear from you.

The survey is open for new registrations until 31 July 2020.

Contact Dr Clarissa Giebel via email: Clarissa.giebel@liverpool.ac.uk, phone on 0151 794 9966 or fill out our contact form here.

Rachel Atkinson | 29 April 2020