ALONE announce national support line and additional supports and outreach for older people
Dublin, 8 March 2020: ALONE, the organisation that supports older people, has announced the launch of a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland.
On Tuesday 3 March, the National Public Health Emergency, chaired by Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer in the Department of Health, announced the establishment of a Vulnerable People Subgroup.
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.
The supports offered include a new national support line launching tomorrow, Monday 9 March, and additional outreach and coordinated support. This support line is to complement the clinical advice and information being provided by the HSE through its website and helpline.
Professional staff will be available to answer queries regarding COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and give advice and reassurance where necessary. The support line will be open Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024, and hours may be extended to meet the demand.
Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said, “The WHO advises us to be SMART and inform ourselves about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and to be kind and support one another. This support line provides additional information supports for older people who may have concerns or support needs; it is led by our voluntary sector who provide invaluable work with communities; and is working as part of our co-ordinated national response to COVID-19.”
“We are ramping up our response to COVID-19 to provide support to all older people nationwide working in collaboration with the Department of Health and the HSE,” he continued.
“As the situation develops, as well as advice, information and emotional supports, we will ensure every older person will have access to food, medication, fuel, daily contact, and any other support that may be needed. We want to emphasise that these supports are free, and available to all older people, including those who have not previously used our services.
“Should any older person need any advice or practical support, we encourage them to call us on 0818 222 024. We are also collaborating on our response with more than 100 other organisations in the community and voluntary sector working with older people, providing them with support where necessary, to create a surge in capacity and ensure a comprehensive and robust response. As the situation develops we may need to call on civic organisations to support our work.”
“Our message is clear, ALONE and its partner organisations are providing additional information and supports, however where older people consider that they have COVID-19 (Coronavirus) symptoms and meet the criteria set out by the HSE their first point of contact should be to phone a doctor in line with HSE advice.”
Moynihan continued: “At the moment the risk of contracting Coronavirus is low to moderate. In line with HSE advice older people should continue to carry out their daily activities as normal while taking the appropriate preventative measures, including regular washing of hands and practicing cough etiquette.”
ALONE has 2,000 volunteers who provide visitation and telephone Support and Befriending, and professional staff who offer coordinated supports to older people experiencing loneliness, financial and housing difficulties, and any other challenges they may face. 45% of the older people ALONE supports are over the age of 80.
ALONE advises that older people practice the following protective measures as outlined by the HSE:
· Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
· Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing/sneezing.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
· Practice cough and sneeze hygiene – covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough/sneeze. Then dispose of the tissue immediately.
· Stay informed: keep up to date on latest Covid-19 information on www.hse.ie.
“The outbreak of COVID-19 will pose additional challenges for older people who may already be vulnerable and particularly those who struggle with health difficulties, loneliness, and other issues,” concluded Moynihan. “To the friends and family of older people who may have concerns, we are encouraging them to continue to support older people in the community as they have always done, while ensuring they are taking the same protective measures.”
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.