ADI member CEAFA reveals how they have adapted to support people living with dementia during COVID-19

Jesús Rodrigo, CEO of ADI’s member Confederación Española de Familiares de Enfermos de Alzheimer (CEAFA) shares his experiences of supporting people with dementia and their carers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

At the time of writing, the number of deaths by COVID-19 in Spain exceed those in China.

In just a few weeks, the daily life of the country has been completely turned around; although at the outset the measures taken were not forceful, since 14 March we have been in a state of emergency. Since then, family associations of people with Alzheimer’s have had to cease their activity, meaning that 200,000 families have stopped receiving the specialized services and cares that these associations offer. It has been the authorities that have forced, for safety reasons, the closure of Alzheimer’s therapeutic centers. As a side effect, most professionals have temporarily lost their jobs.

However, at CEAFA we have been able to adapt to the situation, and all the professionals at headquarters continue our activities thanks to telework, which is allowing us to continuously support our Associations (a network of more than 310 across the country). Such support activities include:

  • We have enabled a space on the CEAFA institutional website specifically dedicated to COVID-19, with a direct link to the Ministry of Health’s website, containing up-to-date information on the evolution of the pandemic.
  • We have put in place an official information access alert system published by the central government, which is sent in real time by email to the entire structure of the Confederation. In addition, all this information is available on the CEAFA website. The purpose of this information is to provide tools that promote the management of associations from the economic, labor, tax, etc. perspectives.
  • We have established a knowledge bank in which associations deposit tools, materials, documents, etc., aimed at facilitating the homefunding of both people with dementia and their caring relatives. All this material, in addition to being available on the CEAFA website, is also shared through social networks, available to all people who may be interested.
  • Right now, we are in the process of setting up a good practice bank, in which associations have been invited to share their experiences and strategies to deal with the chaos and uncertainty of COVID-19, as well as to continue to support families affected by dementia who are at home.

The alarm status will continue until at least 11 April, although it may be longer. Possibly, the least of the ills is home confinement – despite how hard it is, especially for the most vulnerable groups. Most likely, the worst is to come and, paradoxically, it will occur once the vaccine for the virus has been found.

The return to “normality” is going to be the great challenge that we will have to face.

In order to do this, we have to begin preparing and raise questions like: will all associations have sufficient capacity to reopen their centres? Are all professionals going to be able to get their jobs back? Will users go back to associations? Are we really going to be able to get back to normal?

These issues and others that we will need to ask ourselves in the short term are likely to change the way we work and act; surely the COVID-19 crisis will mark a before and after in the way we work and will require us to make changes. We must evolve to adapt to the new situation that we are going to have to experience. In all these processes, we will play an active part and try to give specific support to the Confederations, in order to continue our contributions to improving the quality of life of those affected by dementia.

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