What is Coronavirus COVID19?

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways.  It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.  The symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • A high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • A new, continuous cough – this means you have started coughing repeatedly

If you do show symptoms stay at home for 7 days

If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms.

How is COVID19 spread?

This is a new illness and so understanding of the exact nature of how coronavirus is spread is limited.  Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. 

In order to prevent the spreading of this illness the NHS advises:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus
  • Only travel on public transport if you need to
  • Work from home, if you can
  • Avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas
  • Avoid events with large groups of people
  • Use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services

How can I help someone who is living with dementia stay safe from coronavirus?

Those caring for a person living with dementia may feel concerned about the risk of them contracting coronavirus.  There is also the potential impact of self-isolation to think about, but it is still possible to support a person living with dementia in these circumstances.

  • Regularly clean all surfaces or items that the person comes into contact with frequently i.e. door handles, remote controls, light switches and taps.
  • Ensure that there is adequate supply of soap and hand sanitiser for the person. It might be beneficial to leave notes to remind a person living with dementia to regularly wash their hands. 
  • If the person is taking medication make sure that they have access to this. Consider that you or the person may be advised to self-isolate so keep in contact with the GP or pharmacists to avoid running out of medication.
  • Ask them how you can help. They might need groceries dropped of to them or medication if they are self-isolating.
  • If they are self-isolating, make sure they have activities than can help keep them stimulated. This could be puzzles, books, crosswords etc.  It will be beneficial to encourage the person to do gentle daily exercises to help them stay active and ensure they don’t spend too long in one position.
  • If you are unable to visit the person make sure they you still check in on them and stay in touch. You can do this over the phone, by post and if possible, you could even set them up to Skype with you! 

What groups are at risk?

The Government’s latest advice (correct as of 18/03/2020) is that certain groups of people are at a higher risk and therefore need to stay home and avoid contact with other people.  This applies to those aged 70 and over, people who are pregnant and anyone living with a complex health condition including:

  • People who have received an organ transplant and remain on ongoing immunosuppression medication 
  • People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy 
  • People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia who are at any stage of treatment 
  • People with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma (requiring hospital admissions or courses of steroid tablets) 
  • People with severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis). 

The Government is also advising all those who are under 70 but living with long-term health conditions including:

  • Chronic, long-term respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis 
  • Chronic heart disease, such a heart failure 
  • Chronic kidney disease 
  • Chronic liver disease such as hepatitis 
  • Chronic neurological conditions such as Parkinson's Disease, Motor Neurone Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, a learning disability or cerebral palsy 
  • Diabetes 
  • Problems with your spleen – for example sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed 
  • A weakened immune system as a result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS or medicines such as steroid tablets, or chemotherapy 
  • Being seriously overweight with a BMI of 40 or above 

Is Alzheimer’s & Dementia Support Services still open?

As of 17/03/2020 all of our group services have been suspended and Safeharbour Café is closed until further notice.  At Alzheimer’s & Dementia Support Services, we take the health and safety of people living with dementia, our staff and the wider community very seriously and are now working with the people who need us to identify how we can support them over this very difficult time. We are going to ensure people can access telephone or email support from us and our Care Workers will be working tirelessly to ensure those who need home visits will still receive them.

Useful links

You can call us on 01474 533990 Monday to Friday 9am till 5pm or alternatively you can email [email protected].  If you need support outside these hours you can call the 24hour Kent Dementia Helpline on 0800 500 3014. 

To stay up to date with the latest Government advice go to https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance

For advice from the NHS visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

To access the NHS 111 online coronavirus service visit https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/