'Final week was so precious' - man backs care home visits dementia fight

Keith and Pat Crofton. Photo from NIHR

Keith and Pat Crofton. Photo from NIHR - Credit: NIHR

A Norfolk man has made a vow to raise the profile of dementia following the death of his wife as a campaign calls for a recovery plan with those living with the illness at its heart. 

Keith Crofton, 68, lost his wife of 39 years, Pat, after she died with Covid-19 at Cavell Court in Cringleford in December.

He now hopes close meaningful contact can resume for loved ones. 

Mr Crofton's wife had vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s, and the family were able to spend precious time with her during her last week, which Mr Crofton says other families should not be denied.

His words come as a coalition of dementia organisations including Alzheimer’s Society call for meaningful - close contact and indoor - care home visits from March 8 and family carers to be able to register their carer status with GP surgeries to ensure they are given vaccination priority, among other demands.

Nearly a third of those who lost a loved one during the pandemic thought that isolation or a lack of social contact was a significant factor, according to a study by the Alzheimer's Society.

Mr Crofton said: "Our final week with Pat was so precious but I wish we’d had more of the same visits much earlier.

Keith Crofton who is an official Join Dementia Research Champion. Picture: Keith Crofton

Keith Crofton who is an official Join Dementia Research Champion. Picture: Keith Crofton - Credit: Archant

"I’m delighted to hear plans for reinstating care home visits from March 8, but family carers need to be recognised much more for the vital roles they play in a loved one’s care."

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Dementia organisations joined forces as One Dementia Voice in July to call for designated family carers to be given key worker status to enable care home visits to loved ones.

Mr Crofton said: "During our final week with Pat, we had moments where the dementia fog lifted, and we saw reactions for the first time in over a year.

"I was playing some music and my daughter asked whether she wanted to continue listening to ‘dad’s playlist’ or the music they used to like.

Pat Crofton with one of her three grandchildren before lockdown. Picture: Keith Crofton

Pat Crofton with one of her three grandchildren before lockdown. Picture: Keith Crofton - Credit: Archant

"At this point Pat smiled and winked at my daughter and we knew she was following what we were saying."

In a survey of 1,001 people who care for a family member, partner or someone close to them with dementia, an overwhelming 92pc said the pandemic had accelerated their loved one’s dementia symptoms. Alzheimer’s Society’s support services have been used more than 3.6 million times since the pandemic began.

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