BY THE ALZHEIMER’S SOCIETY
Thousands of people will face paying £70 a month to safely visit loved ones living with dementia in care homes following a controversial decision to scrap free lateral flow tests from April 1.
The announcement, included in the Government’s Living With Covid-19 plan, has been labelled a potentially deadly mistake by Alzheimer’s Society.
Marion Child, Head of Services for Alzheimer’s Society in London, said: “Free lateral flow tests are a crucial part of protecting people living with dementia in care homes, and it is essential their loved ones have free access to them so they can visit safely.
“A lack of testing when people were shockingly discharged into care homes at the start of the pandemic resulted in tens of thousands of residents catching the virus and by not offering free tests to visitors the Government is in danger of repeating the same, deadly mistake.”
Earlier this week Boots announced they would be selling packs of five lateral flow tests for £12 from early March, meaning those wishing to visit loved ones daily will have to pay £73 per calendar month.
It’s estimated that at least 70 per cent of care home residents have dementia and their families, already impacted by the soaring cost of living, now face having to shell out even more money to ensure the safety of their loved ones or risk passing on coronavirus.
Ms Child: “The scaling back of free community testing will put family members and carers, desperate to keep their loved ones safe, out of pocket at a time when the cost of living is already rising.
“Ending the need for people to self-isolate after a positive test will also leave many feeling anxious about catching coronavirus as they try to get on with their lives.
Alzheimer’s Society is calling for care home visiting guidelines to be as clear as possible, along with rules on self-isolation and access to PPE for health and care staff.
The charity wants free lateral flow testing for everyone living with dementia and their carers, and to see the over-75 booster drive prioritise care homes and those receiving care in their own homes.
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