Increase in mental health issues in elderly and vulnerable due to lockdown
PUBLISHED: 08:00 30 August 2020
Elderly and vulnerable people say their mental health has suffered and they have struggled with loneliness during the coronavirus pandemic.
Healthwatch North Somerset supported people through the lockdown by providing a helpline and referring at-risk, housebound residents to GP surgeries and community groups.
The independent body, which works to improve health services in the area, has carried out a survey to find out how people coped during the lockdown to see what improvements can be made.
Healthwatch’s report found 63 per cent of elderly and vulnerable people felt isolated or lonely, with the majority saying this affected their wellbeing and physical health.
Almost half of people who responded said communication about changes to services had been poor, leaving them confused and unsure of where to turn.
Some of the problems people faced included accessing information on medical appointments and repeat prescriptions, difficulty getting food delivery slots and a lack of clarity over advice for those who were shielding.
Kayleigh Pullenger, from Portishead, said she felt very anxious during lockdown as she had been waiting months to get assessed for care at home to help her look after a child with additional needs.
She tried to get help from her local mental health recovery team which proved very difficult.
Kayleigh said: “I have been passed between social services and mental health teams which has been tricky as I have a child with additional needs. There definitely has been an issue for people, like me, who need support and haven’t been able to access it.”
While many people said they struggled to get help, others were delighted with the support they received.
Colin Davies, also from Portishead, was diagnosed with cancer of the tongue at the start of lockdown and has since had a course of radiotherapy, video calls with doctors, nurses, dieticians and speech therapists and says he has been ‘very happy’ with the care he has received.
Healthwatch North Somerset has made recommendations to ensure people have better access to advice in the future, including improving communication offline, easily accessible digital start-up guides and more services to help people who are feeling isolated or depressed.
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