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Top tips for Crawley parents supporting children at home during coronavirus pandemic

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For many parents, the prospect of having to support their child’s learning from home may seem daunting, especially at such short notice.

Nicola Anderson – Head of Customer Support at online tutoring service MyTutor has provided her tips to reassure parents at this time and advises how they can support their children as fully as possible.

1. Make sure they’ve got a space to work and the equipment they need

Set up a desk in a quiet corner of the house where your child can keep their laptop, textbooks and notes – they’ll find it much easier to focus and the rest of the family can continue life as normal. As schools would normally provide things like flashcards, exercise books and planners, it may be worth preparing these items now should closures be enforced at short notice.

2. Set good habits around phone use

Teens spend a lot of time on apps speaking with their friends anyway – and isolation will only increase their desire to communicate socially. While some communication will be positive for their mental health, the opposite is true when social media fuels feelings of isolation and anxiety. You’ll need to set some ground rules for how phones are used during the day, and keep an eye on your child’s mood.

3. Help them organise their day (and make sure they go outside!)

Without the structure of the school day, and without the engagement of peers, motivation and energy can take a dive. Help your child set up a timetable that’ll work for them and covers the subjects they need. Divide up periods of study with active breaks. Make sure your child moves, goes outside, eats meals at the appropriate times and has offline conversations.

4. Have some go-to resources lined up

You’re likely to run into situations where your child doesn’t understand some of their course content and you’re unable to help. In these situations, having some resources ready is wise. Look up the specifications for the subjects your child is studying from the relevant exam boards and bookmark any online resources that can help you out. Save My Exams and S-cool are two handy sites.

5. Look for online support 

Self-study is an incredibly hard skill to master and secondary school pupils may struggle without someone actively explaining concepts to them. It’s worth finding an online tutor who can help your child fill in any gaps in their knowledge. Online lessons are like having a face-to-face skype call with a tutor but with an interactive whiteboard on the screen too so students can upload documents and make notes. A tutor can keep students on track with the syllabus and give them a much-needed boost of confidence in what is a confusing and challenging time.

6. Keep an eye out for mental health issues

If you have to homeschool your child, don’t panic. We’re more set-up than ever before to manage a situation like this. Remember, lots of parents (about 50,000!) choose to homeschool their kids regardless of Coronavirus. What is important is to look out for signs that your child isn’t coping mentally with a home set-up. Despondency and withdrawal or anger and higher-than-usual levels of irritability can all point to stress. There are lots of great services you can call on for support such as Kooth and YoungMinds.

Coronavirus

Pandemic claims the lives of more than 5,200 people with dementia in the South East

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Orla Phipps and Grandma Agnes

A staggering 5,200 people with dementia are estimated to have died from coronavirus in the South East of England since the pandemic hit the UK in full force in March 2020.1

They are among more than 34,000 with the condition to have died in England and Wales from Covid-19, making people with dementia the worst hit by coronavirus.

In addition, new calculations from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that deaths of care home residents, where at least 70% of people have dementia, are 30% higher than previously thought.

There have been almost 12,000 (11,624) deaths since January 2021, which includes care home residents who have died in hospitals or elsewhere.

A coalition of dementia organisations including Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK, John’s Campaign and TIDE (together in dementia everyday), have come together to say never again will those affected face such hardship and loss.

Alzheimer’s Society’s investigation has shown the pandemic’s toll goes even further than deaths from the virus.

In a survey of 1,001 people who care for a family member, partner or someone close to them with dementia3, an overwhelming 92%4 said the pandemic had accelerated their loved one’s dementia symptoms; 28% of family carers said they’d seen an ‘unmanageable decline’ in their health5, while Alzheimer’s Society’s support services have been used over 3.6 million times since the pandemic began.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect support line has been flooded with calls from relatives revealing how quickly their loved ones are going downhill, losing their abilities to talk or feed themselves.

Nearly a third (32%) of those who lost a loved one during the pandemic thought that isolation/lack of social contact was a significant factor in that loss.6

People with dementia in care homes have been cut off from their loved ones for almost a year, contributing to a massive deterioration in their health.

A third (31%) reported a more rapid increase in loved ones’ difficulty speaking and holding a conversation, and quarter (25%) in eating by themselves.7

Only 13% of people surveyed have been able to go inside their loved one’s care home since the pandemic began. Almost a quarter (24%) haven’t been able to see their loved one at all for over six months.8

Alzheimer’s Society is calling for meaningful – close contact, indoor – visits to be the default position without delay from 8 March.

Orla Phipps who gave up her studies to live with her Grandmother Agnes said,

Coronavirus has affected my life and the life of my family immensely. The worry about what could happen to my grandma, if we risked having multiple carers looking after her, is the reason I become her full-time carer and left college.

Just before coronavirus hit my grandma Agnes was in a care home recovering from a hip replacement. We were very lucky that she was able to come home just before the nursing homes closed their doors. If she had been denied visits from our family, her dementia would have progressed much faster and her cognitive function would not be as good as it is today.

I have received so many comments from people who follow our TikTok account, who have lost loved ones too, many of whom had dementia and were in care homes. It breaks my heart to think of those who have died without their loved ones by their side.

We must do better by those with dementia and their families, now more than ever. People with dementia need human connection and visiting restrictions have taken this from them. Moving forward we must make up for lost time and show them the care and dignity that they so greatly deserve.”

There are an estimated 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, including more than 134,570 in the South East

Dementia organisations, including this coalition, joined forces as One Dementia Voice in July 2020 to call for designated family carers to be given key worker status to enable care home visits to loved ones.

Family carers are integral to the care system, and to the people for whom they care – it’s they who know how to get their loved ones to eat, drink, take medicine – and are often the first to know when something is wrong.

While the Government recently announced that indoor visits will restart for one family member from 8 March, the coalition emphasises that this must be the default position and that blanket bans on visitors (where there is no coronavirus outbreak) are unacceptable.

Jacqui Justice-Chrisp, South East Area Manager at Alzheimer’s Society said:

“Coronavirus has shattered the lives of so many people with dementia, worst hit by the pandemic – lives taken by the virus itself, and many more prematurely taken due to increased dementia symptoms and, in part, loneliness. Each one leaves behind a grieving family.

Family carers, too, have been buckling under the strain. We urge the Government to support people affected by dementia whose lives have been upended, putting recovery plans in place, but also making the legacy of Covid-19 a social care system that cares for the most vulnerable when they need it.”

Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK, John’s Campaign and TIDE (together in dementia everyday) are calling for:

  • A Recovery Plan with the needs of people affected by dementia at their heart.
  • Meaningful – close contact, indoor – visits to be the default position without delay from 8 March.
  • An end to blanket bans on care home visits where there is no active outbreak.
  • A recognition that family carers are integral to the care system.
  • Family carers to register their carer status with GP surgeries to ensure they get vaccination priority, and call on NHS England to ensure all surgeries enable this
  • Universal social care that we can all be proud of, free at point of use, like the NHS, like education – and providing quality care for every person with dementia who needs it.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Connect Support line – 0333 1503456 – [OK2] is available seven days a week, providing information and practical support for people affected by dementia.

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