Even with the easing of lockdown, both people living with dementia and their carers continue to encounter difficult challenges in their daily lives. None more so than when attending hospital out-patient appointments.
Most people realise that strict protocols are necessary when attending appointments. Such restrictions invariably include the need to minimise footfall. This can cause problems for people living with dementia where the presence of their carer can be frowned upon by hospital staff, particularly on arrival and prior to treatment.
Feedback received indicates an urgent need for better education and understanding of dementia by staff, particularly those in non-clinical positions such as receptionists and security. Carers have an anxious time taking their loved ones to appointments where there is a real fear of not knowing how they will react when faced with unfamiliar environments and people. Being confronted with over-zealous and confrontational staff who fail to grasp that people living with dementia can feel lost in unfamiliar surroundings, find it difficult to explain where they want to go and why and, indeed, why they are there in the first place only adds to the anxiety.
One can only hope that all staff present themselves in a sensitive, warm manner and ensure patients are placed at ease in what can be an alien and forbidding environment. Experience suggests this not to be the case where patients with a ‘hidden illness’ such as dementia are concerned.
Produced by OCN volunteers, partners and participants.
This is the latest in a series of blog posts reflecting on the experiences of people living with dementia, their carers and neighbourhoods during the coronavirus pandemic. The posts are a synthesis of perspectives gathered with people living with dementia in Central Scotland over the course of the Covid-19 outbreak in 2020. These have been collected by OCN volunteers and drafted collaboratively in order to build a larger picture of the impact of Covid-19 and what the changes around it have meant for people living with dementia and their carers. It is important to highlight that in most instances these are people who will have been shielding for a significant period of time. It is clear, therefore, that more must be done to improve their access to support, community and to reduce loneliness. We hope these articles will widen understanding of the issues and draw attention to what can be a hidden problem for many people.