Having a loved one in a care home can be difficult, especially at this time due to the coronavirus restrictions which might mean you are unable to visit your loved one. Dementia UK and the Relatives & Residents Association has provided some tips on how you can keep in touch with your loved one from afar:

  • Discuss with the care staff how you can use technology to keep in touch with your loved one. Some technology may not be appropriate for all, for example, if the person is affected by dementia. Discuss with the care staff which form of communication might be most suitable for your loved one, bearing in mind any sight or hearing impairment:
    • Video calling like FaceTime, WhatsApp, Messenger, Skype, Zoom etc
    • Telephone – for some, landlines may be more appropriate
    • Virtual assistants, like Alexa, can help people to stay in touch
  • Arrange with the home a regular time to get in touch with your loved one
    • Even where your loved one appears not to understand verbal communication, a phone call from you, with your familiar voice, could still be beneficial
  • If your loved one is affected by dementia, create a life-story book to make a record of their background, interests, relationships etc to help the care team better understand and relate to them
  • Send small parcels by post with something of yours which will be familiar to your loved one with your smell, or send books, magazines, DVDs, items to help with a hobby etc.*
  • Order some favourite food or drink to be delivered to your relative at the home, like the treats you would normally take in for them which they might also be missing
  • Order some flowers to be sent to the home, with your personal message, to help brighten up the day of your relative (and the staff!)
  • Post some photographs, old and recent, to your loved one to help them stay connected to you*
  • Send cards, letters or post cards with messages of support / updates on family news*
  • Alert care staff to upcoming milestone dates, like birthdays, wedding anniversaries, or anniversaries of deaths which may affect your loved one. Ask care staff to ensure you are able to contact your loved one on those dates

* Those with COVID-19 symptoms should use gloves to prepare these items or ask someone without symptoms to do this for them, to help prevent possible contamination.

Need help with IT?

If you need help to use techology to contact your loved ones, during this difficult time, Avagio IT Services have offered to provide informal IT technical support for carers registered with us at Carer Support Wiltshire. Email – helpinghand@avagio.co.uk or call 01249470148.

Other help and resources

For anyone who has any questions about dementia at this time, please contact Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline on 0800 888 6678 and helpline@dementiauk.org.

You can also turn to Dementia UK’s online support resource around COVID-19. It will be updated as the situation develops and contains advice from our Admiral Nurses and many other resources. Link here.

For anyone who has other questions about someone in or needing care, please contact the Relatives & Residents Association Helpline on 020 7359 8136 and info@relres.org. The Helpline is open from 9.30am – 1pm Monday to Friday.