Coronavirus may have put a stop to large fundraising events, but it hasn’t stopped care home staff lacing up their trainers and walking 500 miles to raise money in the battle against dementia.

Alzheimer’s Society’s memory walk events had to be cancelled, but staff at Pinhay House Care Home in Lyme Regis answered the charity’s call for people to do their own, smaller ones.

Kara Marshall, care supervisor at the home, said: “Many of our 23 residents are living with some sort of dementia, so it’s a cause close to our hearts.

“When our manager Sheena Lee heard that Alzheimer’s Society were looking for people to plan their own memory walks this year, she thought it would be a great way to raise money - and the spirits of staff.

“So, from August 1 to the end of the month, about 15 members of staff have been tracking their steps at work and home and - so far - we’ve clocked up over 500 miles between us.”

The call-out for walkers comes at a critical time for those people living with dementia, their family and carers.

Marion Child, head of region for Alzheimer’s Society, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has hit people with dementia the hardest, with a quarter of those who’ve died having dementia. People have told us that lack of social contact is taking a toll on their mental health and that their dementia symptoms have worsened during lockdown.

“The needs of people affected by dementia has never been higher. Alzheimer’s Society support services have been used over half a million times since the pandemic began but we’re facing a shortfall of up to £45million in income, as a result of coronavirus. That’s why we’ve been asking people to unite with us by taking part in their own memory walk to raise vital funds and we’re thrilled that Pinhay House Care Home staff have risen to the challenge in such a big way.”

The team has so far raised £275.

Kara added: “We’ve been in lockdown since March with only ‘window visits’ by family members allowed, so it’s been a strange and stressful time for everyone. Luckily, we’ve been completely coronavirus free, but it’s heartbreaking when residents just can’t understand why their family can come to the window but can’t enter the home to be with them.

“The memory walk has given staff and residents alike a different focus and some fun, and we’ve been quite competitive - especially as one of our resident’s daughters has offered a prize of a stay in her villa in Spain to the member of staff who walks the furthest. The residents have been cheering us all on and have enjoyed some of the banter that’s been going on among staff.”

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