I know that this pandemic has been a very difficult time for people with dementia and their families; especially for those in care homes, who have been unable to see their loved ones in person for several months. Elderly care home residents are particularly vulnerable to the virus, making this an even more worrying time for them and their families; although I hope that, with the overwhelming majority of elderly people and care home residents now vaccinated, the vaccine will provide people with some peace of mind.
The deployment of the vaccine is an important step towards making it safe to allow care home visits to resume. The Government’s first priority throughout this pandemic has been to keep care home residents safe, but the vaccine has now been offered to residents at all eligible care homes, and I hope that the end of restrictions on care home visits is now in sight. I also understand that some care homes hold visits with arrangements like substantial screens and visiting pods, which are designed to mitigate the risk of the virus being spread, and I would continue to encourage care homes to allow visits under these terms wherever practicable, within the rules.
With regard to the use of anti-psychotics, I understand that these have been prescribed for some patients with dementia for some time, albeit only where they are at risk of harming themselves or others, or if they are severely distressed, and alongside other treatments or activities. The risks and benefits of taking an anti-psychotic should always be discussed with the person with dementia, where possible, and any carers; and I will be sure to investigate the use of anti-psychotics for patients with dementia during the pandemic.