“We all know how important social distancing is at present. However, for someone with mental health needs and individuals with dementia, our aim is to make this distancing merely a physical one,” said Regina Lafferty, Clinical Nurse Specialist in Dementia. “The truth is that for those who are cocooning, the days can be long and lonely.”
In ‘normal’ circumstances mental health service users needs are supported by various community and hospital based services such as Day Care Centres, social groups, Men’s Sheds, community mental health teams and many others.
However, during the COVID-19 pandemic many service users and their families are unable to access the community based services. Staff in Mental Health Services for Older Persons in HSE North Dublin were extremely mindful of this and in response developed a programme called ‘Golden Moments’ to provide a structured alternative in supporting individuals with dementia in their homes. And it worked well. ‘Golden Moments’ has been an overwhelming success and service users and family members have let us know by text, emails, voicemail and cards.
A hug or even the sight of a loved one at your bedside can help patients to get through tough times in hospitals. It’s the lack of this close contact that has been hardest on patients and families during the COVID-19 crisis.
But UL Hospitals Group has been facilitating virtual hospital visits to help keep families in touch during the public health emergency.