Unpaid carers for people with dementia play a crucial role in society. Emerging evidence suggests the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted on carers. This study sought to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on carers for community-dwelling people with dementia and compare responses with pre-pandemic data.
Data were collected between September 2020 and April 2021 in England and Wales. Carers were identified from the Improving the experience of Dementia and Enhancing Active Life (IDEAL) cohort and data were collected either through the telephone, video conferencing, or an online questionnaire. Responses from 242 carers were compared against benchmark data from the IDEAL cohort collected pre-pandemic. Analyses were conducted for the full sample of carers and spousal/partner carers only.
In total 48.8% of carers thought their healthcare needs were negatively affected during the pandemic. Compared with pre-pandemic data carers were more lonely and experienced less life satisfaction. There was little impact on carers’ experience of caregiving, although carers felt trapped in their caregiving role. Carers were more optimistic and had higher social contact with relatives. There were changes in the methods carers used for contacting relatives and friends. Most carers coped very or fairly well during the pandemic. There was little difference in the experiences of spousal/partner carers and the full sample.
After a long period of providing care under pandemic conditions carers require additional support. This support needs to be focused on alleviating feelings of loneliness and increasing life satisfaction. Services need to consider how to improve access to health care, particularly resuming face-to-face appointments.
Quinn, C, Gamble, LD, Parker, S, et al. Impact of COVID-19 on carers of people with dementia in the community: Findings from the British IDEAL cohort. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2022; 1- 11. https://doi.org/10.1002/gps.5708