New videos aim to help those living with dementia manage COVID-19 changes

In response to research revealing the challenges that COVID-19 presents people living with dementia, NHS Wales’ Get There Together project has created a series of encouraging videos.

Dr Natalie Elliott, Project Lead and National Consultant AHP Lead for Dementia at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, says: “Get There Together is a national project supporting people living with dementia to adjust to changes in their surroundings due to COVID-19 restrictions. We’ve created the films as ‘digital stories’ to reassure anyone who is apprehensive about getting back out into their communities. The films aim to lessen anxiety and reduce isolation as restrictions ease.”

Alzheimer’s Society reported that nearly half (46%) of people living with dementia state that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health, with over 1 in 3 reporting having lost confidence in going out and carrying out daily tasks.

Carer Ceri Higgins is a member of Lleisiau Dementia, an independent group led by people living with dementia and carers, giving a voice to people living with dementia in Wales. She said: “The Get There Together resources are a much-needed  helping hand to guide us with familiarity and clarity of surroundings and environments that are part of our daily lives. Many of us have been isolated and impacted by the pandemic, with a loss of routine and connection, and Get There Together provides us with insight and increased motivation to re-engage into community life.”

The Get There Together videos have been designed to reduce the concerns that come both with the stresses of COVID-19 and of getting out of practice of heading beyond their front door, where changes to previously familiar processes mean that even a visit to a library can be fraught with tension.

The films are each around two minutes long and have been especially designed with cheery voiceovers, pictures and text, plus a few friendly faces behind masks, to encourage anyone who may be nervous about going out.

These resources can be used by anyone who wants to familiarise themselves with these changes, not just those living with dementia. Anyone can watch the films to see new safety measures such as one-way systems, social distancing signs and clear screens, which could be confusing when first encountered.

The videos have been developed in partnership between NHS in Wales, Local Authorities and a range of businesses and partners. The project was supported and supervised through the Bevan Commission Exemplar Scheme.

By showing examples of signs people might expect to see, one-way systems, social distancing markings and more, these resources will help individuals familiarise themselves with the new safety measures in place at shops, libraries, cafes, healthcare services and other community settings.

The films are also available in leaflet format printed in English and Welsh.

Any business that would like to get involved is invited to email to find out how to contribute a video showcasing their COVID-19 safety measures.

View the video resources:

In addition, Back to Community Life, a venture from Improvement Cymru, provides resources for community leaders to tailor for people in their local area who are struggling since the pandemic to get back to community life. The resources include customisable templates and information about adjustments for local businesses including safe resting places, such as seating, and priority queuing.

Rebecca Hanmer, Senior Improvement Manager at Improvement Cymru, said, “Back to Community Life was initiated in Mountain Ash by local people and organisations, including police, transport, local authority, voluntary sector, health and social care, shops and businesses, working together to identify who needed help and what was needed.

This is a holistic example of how the community can come together to provide an integrated approach to support and enable people to get back to community life.”