New study compares the impact of COVID-19 on older patients and those with dementia during the first and second wave peaks of the pandemic

New research published in BJPsych Open on 8 March 2022, shows that the impact of COVID-19 among older service users (65 and over) and those with dementia in NHS psychiatric wards was reduced during the second wave of the pandemic when compared to the first.

The researchers found that improvements in infection control measures on older adult psychiatric wards, including routine testing of patients and staff, isolation of patients on admission and availability of PPE, are likely to have lowered infection rates and deaths. Data from 16 wards in five NHS mental health trusts was collected by a team of clinicians and academic writers which included Camden & Islington NHS Foundation Trust (C&I).

Dr Vincent Kirchner, C&I Medical Director, says: “We know that older adults and people with dementia are at high risk of infection and mortality due to COVID-19. This study was able to look at the lessons learned from the peak of the first wave of COVID 19 (March to April 2020) and what impact these had on the peak of the second wave (December 2020 to February 2021). The introduction of infection prevention and control measures, the wearing of surgical masks by staff and visitors and the regular testing of asymptomatic service users and patient-facing NHS staff all helped to reduce the spread of infection. Vaccination also occurred during wave 2 but not wave 1, but it is unclear to what extent this may have influenced differences in reported outcomes as the study period coincided with the beginning of the vaccination campaign.”

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