ALONE receives more than 1,100 calls to helpline for older people in one day as cocooning measures are introduced
The organisation welcomes the launch of Local Authority practical support lines and reminds older people that staying at home doesn’t mean they will be alone
ALONE, the organisation that supports older people, received more than 1,100 calls to their COVID-19 helpline for older people on Saturday following the introduction of the cocooning measures, and is adding further staff members to answer phone calls to meet the increasing demand.
ALONE has received more than 5,500 calls to their National Helpline in total, which is operating in collaboration with the Department of Health and the HSE, and expect the daily number of phone calls to remain high as older people follow the advice of the Department of Health and stay in their homes.
The organisation has welcomed the introduction of practical support phone lines for older and medically vulnerable people by Local Authorities nationwide, which will increase capacity and resources for those who are most in need. ALONE will work in collaboration with Local Authorities, and the ALONE National Helpline will complement Local Authority work by continuing to provide information, advice, emotional support, and provide daily telephone support to older people who would like extra social contact at this time.
The Local Authority Community Response Forum will meet in every local authority area and will consist of the HSE, the council, county champions, An Post, Community Welfare Service, An Garda Siochana, other State organisations, and community and voluntary groups, including ALONE and other age organisations.
“We greatly welcome the news that Local Authorities will now provide practical supports to older and medically vulnerable people throughout this time,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan. “We look forward to working closely with all Local Authorities so that together we can offer advice, support, and practical assistance to older people and those who are among high risk groups. So far we and our volunteers have carried out hundreds of practical support tasks to assist older people, and Local Authorities will have the ability to scale this further as demand increases. We received more than 1,100 calls on Saturday alone following the introduction of cocooning measures and the capacity provided by the Local Authorities is both welcome and needed.”
The charity also urged communities, family members and neighbours to step up and offer the vital support needed by older people at this time, and reminded older people that staying at home does not mean they will be alone.
“This is an incredibly difficult time for all of us but particularly older people and especially those who live alone,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan. “We are urging family members, neighbours and communities to stay in touch with the older people they know and to provide support if needed. The majority of support provided will come from families, neighbours and communities, and their resilience and cooperation is needed now more than ever. Our message to older people is that staying at home doesn’t mean you are alone, and we are encouraging every older person to keep in contact with the people and support organisations they need throughout this time.”
He concluded, “We are encouraging any older person who has questions, concerns, worries, or is experiencing loneliness at this time, to get in touch with us by calling 0818 222 024. As well as difficulties with everyday activities like getting groceries, cocooning measures will also result in lots of older people feeling lonely and isolated, including those who may not previously have identified with this experience. It is important that every older person knows that support is available to them,” Moynihan continued.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris visited ALONE’s Dublin offices last week to meet with CEO Seán Moynihan and discuss the organisation’s COVID-19 strategy for supporting older people in the current circumstances.
As a member organisation of the National Public Health Emergency COVID-19 Subgroup for Vulnerable People, ALONE is working in collaboration with the Department of Health and the HSE on a coordinated national response to support older people who have concerns, may be at risk or who have contracted COVID-19.
ALONE is encouraging older people who need advice to call their helpline, 0818 222 024 from 8am-8pm, seven days a week. The helpline, which is running in collaboration with the Department of Health and the HSE, is available to all older people including those who have not used ALONE’s services previously. The support line is designed to complement the clinical advice and information being provided by the HSE through its website and helpline. Older people who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 are advised to call their GP.
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.