Charities urge minister to give key-worker status to family and friends of people with dementia

Organisations including the Alzheimer's Society and Dementia UK have written to health secretary Matt Hancock saying this would allow people to visit their loved ones

A group of charities has called on the government to give key-worker status to the family and friends of people with dementia in care homes so they can visit their loved ones. 

In a letter to Matt Hancock, the health secretary, the charities – which include the Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK, Alzheimer’s Research UK and YoungDementia UK – said there had been “much suffering and a deterioration in the mental and physical health” of many care home residents with dementia in recent months because of a ban on all visitors.

The charities said designated family and friends of people in care homes with dementia should be given key-worker status, which would allow better access to coronavirus tests and enable them to visit their loved ones. 

The letter said that if someone with dementia was in hospital they could be visited, but if they lived in a care home they often could not. 

It said this was “not just cruel and unnecessary”, but also a violation of their human rights. 

“We are therefore calling – with one united voice – for the government to grant designated family and friend carers the same status as a key worker care home member of staff, allowing them the same access to care homes with the same provision of testing so they can meet the essential needs of residents,” the letter said. 

“This is in recognition of the damage that separation can have on those with dementia and the legal obligations to ensure that people’s human rights are recognised, respected and upheld in all care settings.”

The Department of Health and Social Care is expected to set out further details shortly on how the government could allow careful care home visits.

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