ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, has welcomed the further easing of restrictions for older people as we enter Phase 2 of the COVID-19 roadmap.
With older people now advised they can receive visitors to their homes, ALONE will from this week reinstate home visits by Support and Befriending volunteers where both the volunteer and the older person are comfortable doing so, using the recommended protective measures. ALONE volunteers have been providing support throughout COVID-19 by making phone calls, providing practical supports (like getting groceries), and having outdoor visits and walks in more recent stages when restrictions were eased.
While the organisation is pleased to see the lifting of certain restrictions, it has also called for further clarity from Government and the NPHET on advice for older people who have been cocooning, beyond Phase 2 of the COVID-19 Roadmap. The Roadmap contains no further reference to those who have been cocooning after this phase, and ALONE has said that there are still to be questions to be answered as to what the further easing of restrictions will look like for this cohort, and the supports that will be available to them throughout this time.
The organisation would also like to see the implementation of support structures for older people who are starting to go out again, and has asked for updates regarding the reopening of services such as day centres, health and chiropody services, medical appointments, etc.
Current advice for older and medically vulnerable people is as follows:
- stay at home as much as possible
- small numbers of people are permitted to visit at home, while maintaining social distancing
- when shopping, use the times specially allotted by retailers
“We welcome the fact that older people will now be able to have visitors at home. Loneliness has been a huge issue for older people who have gotten in touch with ALONE during this period and meeting family and friends will be a wonderful moment for those who have been cocooning over the last few months,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan. “However, although restrictions have been eased slightly, this does not mean all the difficulties have gone away. Approximately 20% of the older people who have gotten in touch with us during this period are now getting longer term support from ALONE. The impact of cocooning on physical and mental health will only now begin to be fully realised.”
He continued, “In order to best advise and support older people and those who have been cocooning, we are asking for clearer guidelines for older people in the later phases of the roadmap as lockdown measures are gradually lifted. There is no further mention of older people and cocooning in the Roadmap after Phase 2, which is something we would like to be rectified as soon as possible so that older people know where they stand. There is a lack of clarity as to when facilities such as day centres, chiropody services and other essential medical services will resume, and it is vital that we have the necessary support structures in place for older people who are beginning to get out and about again.”
ALONE have also reminded older people that their services continue to be available to any older person who needs advice or support during this time.
“I would like to remind any older person that is struggling at the moment that even though restrictions are being eased, supports are still available to them through ALONE and Local Authorities across the country. If you are struggling at all over the coming weeks and months, please do not hesitate to reach out and seek help.” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan.
Since it launched in March, ALONE has received in excess of 22,377 calls for support. ALONE staff and volunteers have made more than 93,498 calls to older people who needed support, and provided more than 13,200 units of practical support, including collecting groceries and prescriptions. ALONE is providing ongoing support to more than 12,000 older people who require support for difficulties with loneliness, health, finance, housing, accessing services, COVID-19 and other challenges.
ALONE is encouraging older people who need advice to call ALONE on, 0818 222 024 from 8am-8pm, seven days a week. Contact ALONE on 0818 222 024 if you have concerns about your own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of an older person you know. Further information can be found on www.alone.ie.