This year’s Dementia Awareness Week, from May 31 to June 6, has reflected upon the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Dementia community with a focus on exploring ‘Hidden voices, Hidden impact, Hidden cost’.

We can make a pledge to ensure that the hidden impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people with dementia, and their families and carers, is brought to the forefront. I write as someone who has lived experience from supporting my mother who is a care home resident with dementia.

As research has accumulated over the last 14 months, a clear picture has emerged that people with dementia and their families are particularly susceptible not just to the infection, but also, have experienced negative effects from the measures put in place to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Their impairments make it challenging for individuals with dementia to understand and comply with safeguarding procedures, such as wearing masks and maintaining appropriate physical distancing. Ignoring or forgetting warnings and an inability to follow self-quarantine measures increase the risk of infection.

Alzheimer Scotland has published an updated report, ‘COVID-19: the hidden impact’, which brings together evidence from tens of thousands of people with dementia and their carers supported throughout this crisis.

The pandemic has curtailed close, meaningful contact and magical moments with our friends and loved ones. But the disruption, isolation and anxiety from the withdrawal of face-to-face supports has had unique effects on the Dementia community.

During lockdown, services have adapted, with a new online support platform for patients and carers. The Dementia Dog team at Alzheimer Scotland has been busy developing fun online support services including ‘Doggy Bingo’. These virtual sessions have offered group and one-to-one opportunities to stay connected, providing engagement with dogs for people who are living with dementia. However, people with dementia have lost the invaluable support offered by art, music, reminiscence, and exercise groups.

Carers have missed precious respite services, such as those offered by day centres. Dementia diagnostic pathways have been interrupted, as has research and clinical trials.

As restrictions gradually lift, and Glasgow moves in to level two, there is the urgent requirement to respond to the increased levels of need through the safe reopening of community support services for people with dementia and their carers. This is necessary to better balance the need to protect them from Covid-19 and the harms that the restrictions in our communities are causing.

In the latest Dementia Innovation Readiness Index 2020, Glasgow was ranked second out of 30 global cities for dementia innovation. This recognition was informed by the work of the Health and Social Care Partnership and Alzheimer Scotland in developing a three-year strategy from 2016 to 2019 to locally build upon Scotland’s national plan.

As part of our plans for the city, we have to meet the aspiration of a Dementia Friendly Glasgow. We must encourage and strengthen communities to ensure that there is increased support for people affected by dementia.