Brain Sciences


National study examines the effects of social service closures on people living with dementia

1 May 2020

A new survey has been launched to explore the long-term effects of social service closures due to COVID-19, on the lives and wellbeing of older people, people with dementia and unpaid carers.

carer and elderly person

Professor Claudia Cooper (UCL Division of Psychiatry) joins an expert team of NHS, voluntary and academic collaborators from University of Liverpool, Lancaster University, UCLAN, and University of Bradford, to conduct the very first COVID-19 funded dementia study in the UK. 

Professor Cooper said: “COVID-19 public health measures have led to the temporary shutdown of face-to-face services, which is likely to have a huge impact on the lives of people with dementia and carers who are reliant on social support for their wellbeing.”

“We need to understand the impact this has on their mental wellbeing, to be able to make recommendations on how services can be adapted to continue to provide support to those in need.”

Across the UK, over 850,000 people currently live with dementia, with carers providing an estimated £13 billion of unpaid care a year.

However due to COVID-19 these face-to-face services are now temporarily closed, leaving huge gaps in support and care needs. These services include day care centres, peer support groups, coffee mornings, and respite care including social activities such as singing and dancing groups.

Dr Clarissa Giebel of the University of Liverpool said: “Family carers are struggling to provide enough support for their loved ones living with dementia, and those living alone with dementia are now finding themselves completely shut off from much-needed social support.”

This research aims to inform the Government’s six-month review of changes to local authority social care provision introduced under the emergency COVID-19 act.

The study is funded by the University of Liverpool’s Covid-19 Strategic Research Fund and supported by the National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration North West Coast (NIHR ARC NWC).

Researchers are looking for people with dementia and carers, as well as older people who might be affected by social service closures to participate in the survey.