Taoiseach and Minister for Health visit ALONE’s offices and urge communities to support older people who may be vulnerable where possible
Dublin, 23rd March 2020: ALONE, the organisation that supports older people, has received thousands of calls to their COVID-19 support line for older people since it launched two weeks ago, and has added extra staff to answer the lines to meet the demand.
The organisation has received more than 2,200 calls from older people looking for advice and reassurance, and has offered support to 4,600 older people since the launch of the helpline. ALONE expect the daily number of phone calls to increase further as older people follow the advice of the Department of Health and reduce their contacts outside the home.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris visited ALONE’s Dublin offices today to meet with CEO Seán Moynihan and discuss the organisation’s COVID-19 strategy for supporting vulnerable 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 or support to call their support line, 0818 222 024 from 8am-8pm, seven days a week. The support line, 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.
“The nature of the queries has changed slightly – when we launched earlier this month, it was things like should I still be going to mass, should I still see my grandchildren, and they are still coming in, but people are now concerned also about what support will be available to them if they have to self-isolate or ‘cocoon’ in the coming weeks,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan
“Over the last few days we are getting a lot of concerned older people calling in worried about what would happen if they had to stay in their homes for a longer period of time. We have been receiving increasing numbers of calls from older people who are self-isolating and who require support with getting their groceries, prescriptions and fuel, which we are providing with the help of our volunteers. We are assuring these older people that support will be available from ALONE and other similar organizations during this difficult period.”
“We encourage older people who need support to get in touch with us by calling 0818 222 024, and ALONE and our partner organisations will provide the help that they need. We are working with the HSE, the Department of Health, the Department of Rural and Community Development, Pobal, Rural Link, Volunteer Ireland, The Wheel, and more partner organisations to ensure older people have access to the support they need no matter where they are in the country.”
ALONE has also issued an appeal to families, neighbours and friends of older people who may be vulnerable to get in touch with the older person they know by phone to share the support line details and to offer their own support to their families and neighbours. Moynihan also emphasised that the level of community response to COVID-19 so far had been “unprecedented”.
“We are asking members of the public to keep in regular contact by phone with the older people in their lives, as most will now be limiting leaving their home, and may require additional support,” Moynihan said. “It has been phenomenal to see the outpouring of generosity from individuals and organisations across the country, and people stepping up to meet the needs of others in their community. Now and in the weeks to come, the support of the community will be needed more than ever.
“We are incredibly grateful for all of the offers to volunteer we have been receiving through email and social media. We have received a huge response and we will be back in touch with everyone who has so generously volunteered their time as soon as possible. Over the coming months we hope to recruit 1,500 volunteers. For those who are interested in providing support to older people throughout this period, we would ask them to email us on [email protected] with their full name, phone contact details and location.”
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.