ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, has welcomed the medium-term approach to COVID-19 as outlined by the Government earlier today. Currently the whole country is at a Level 2 status, with the exception of Dublin which has additional measures at Level 2, depending on the number of cases in the city and county over the next week. Level 2 means that those aged 70 and older and the medically vulnerable should exercise judgment regarding the extent to which they engage with others in and outside the home. Specific guidance is yet to be provided.
The organisation welcomed the Winter Plan Budget, which is said to be designed alongside Sláintecare guideline plans; to ensure that the health service has the capacity and resources needed to deal with what is forecast to be a particularly challenging few months. ALONE is looking forward to further detail on the €600m winter package in the coming weeks, which is set to cover health services up to next March.
The organisation was also pleased by the announcement of the proposed implementation of a National Approach to increase mental health supports, as many older people are currently struggling with their mental health as a result of the sudden onset of COVID-19 and related health guidelines such as cocooning. ALONE is aware of the significant health impacts that loneliness can have on our mental health, and have been working hard to support older people who are struggling with their mental health since March.
Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said, “We welcome the introduction of the Winter Plan Budget, as this if often a difficult time of year for older people all over Ireland. We are looking forward to further detail on the plan in the coming weeks and months, as we begin to prepare for the colder weather. We are also pleased to see that the Government will be supporting local wellbeing initiatives, as our organisation works with older people across the country on a local level, providing advice, assistance and support, particularly during these uncertain times.”
He continued, “It is vitally important for us now to try to minimize the risk of transmitting the virus, in order to safeguard vulnerable groups such as older people. This is particularly important in Dublin City and County, as this is where cases are at their highest. Please think of the older people in your life and make sensible decisions involving them in the coming weeks so that we can lower the number of cases.”
ALONE is encouraging older people who need advice to call ALONE on 0818 222 024 from 8am-8pm, seven days a week. Contact ALONE 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.