Lockdown takes its toll on people's loneliness and isolation in Sheffield
How do you balance the risk of coronavirus with the impact of isolation and loneliness on people's mental health?
Councillors are worried elderly and vulnerable people, particularly those with dementia, have struggled to cope with the separation from loved ones and their community over the past three months.
Although lockdown is easing, for many people it will be a while longer before they are able to fully socialise.
Coun Jayne Dunn, who supports dementia groups at Parson Cross Forum, shared a sad story at a scrutiny meeting.
The Labour member for Southey ward said: “What are we doing about the absolutely distraught feelings when people are not able to see their loved ones?
“A particular gentleman had me in tears. He has had Covid-19 and not seen his wife in a care home since February. She hears his voice on the phone, thinks he's coming, she puts on her coat and they can't calm her down because the only way to do this is him stroking her cheek. What are we doing to protect people's mental health?"
Sara Storey, from the council, said they already knew isolation and loneliness affected people, even before Covid-19.
“It's really important to think carefully about balancing the risk from the virus to the risk of people's mental, health and emotional wellbeing and them being very isolated.
“We need to think creatively and it will be different for everybody as people will have different IT skills and different family networks, so we can't put in blanket support and talking to everyone will take some time.
“We might need to think rapidly about providing equipment, supporting people to learn new skills and a lot depends on how things go with the lifting of restrictions.
“We are looking at reinstating some services, such as short breaks, day care and respite, although not in their previous form, because we are conscious that people are really struggling at the lack of contact and family carers have not had a break for some time."