Concerns over Covid impact on mental health of care home residents
- Credit: PA
Concerns have been raised over the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the mental health of people looked after in Norfolk care homes.
Independent watchdog Healthwatch Norfolk has published a report, following a survey of care homes, staff, residents and families in the initial wave of the pandemic.
The survey found staff and family or friends said the restrictions on visits due to Covid-19 had taken their toll on the wellbeing of residents.
The Healthwatch report was presented to councillors at a meeting of Norfolk County Council's people and communities select committee on Friday.
Emily Woodhouse, business development director of Healthwatch Norfolk, said: "Both staff and family and friends said residents' mental health had been significantly affected, particularly due to restricted visits.
"It was really difficult for families to cope with knowing their loved ones were being kept away from them, with restricted visitation to them."
And Sheila Young, Conservative councillor for Gaywood North and Central in King's Lynn, said she had first hand experience of the impact on mental health of residents - and their families.
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She said: "Mental health is very important to me, as my husband has dementia and is in a care home and he's become totally confused and isolated.
"It means I have only seen him through a window once a month since the end of October.
"And that has had an impact on his, and my, mental health, if truth be known."
And she said that sense of isolation went beyond care homes - with many people in communities feeling lonely due to the pandemic.
Some staff who responded to the survey reported it had been hard to arrange care which was needed in homes, such as psychiatrists, GPs and dentists, in the midst of the pandemic's first wave.
Staff said they had found it particularly difficult to explain the changes brought on due to the pandemic to residents who had dementia, the survey found.
The Healthwatch Norfolk report made a series of recommendations.
One was that care homes should work with primary care providers and mental health trusts to explore how residents whose mental health has suffered can be best supported.
- A series of virtual workshops looking at mental health and wellbeing is being held on Friday, February 12. Hosted by this newspaper, the Open Up conference will feature Simon Thomas, Galton Blackiston and Humphrey Berney.
To sign up for the free event visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/open-up-tickets-138246449853