ALONE seek to protect the Dignity of older people on Global Dignity Day 2020

The organisation endeavours to empower older people in retaining their dignity as they age.

Dublin, 21 October 2020   ALONE, the organisation that supports older people is encouraging members of the public to protect dignity by being mindful of older people in our society on Global Dignity Day, Wednesday 21st October. The organisation works with many older people who have experienced a loss of dignity and assists them in finding the necessary supports through their support coordination service. However, the limitations of the pandemic have introduced a new cohort of older people to the organisation who are in receipt of support for the very first time.

Dignity is “the right of a person to be valued and respected for their own sake, and to be treated ethically.”[1] ALONE reminds us to maintain the respect while understanding the value of older people as they are net contributors to society. Dignity is a human right and must be reflected in our treatment towards older people now and into the future of uncertainty.

Since March, ALONE’s National Support Line has received in excess of 35,428 calls for support. ALONE staff and volunteers have made more than 201,446 calls to older people who needed support, and provided more than 4,992 units of practical support, delivered from the support line, staff and volunteers. ALONE is providing ongoing support to more than 15,464 older people who require support for difficulties with loneliness, health, finance, housing, accessing services, COVID-19 and other challenges.

Global Dignity Day was established in 2005 by Prince Haakon of Norway, and focuses on empowering individuals with the concept that every human being has the universal right to lead a dignified life. ALONE believe that in the midst of the pandemic, we must respect an older person’s decision about how they live with COVID-19 in our society as they too have the right to choose how they live their lives.

ALONE assists older people to maintain their dignity through their support coordination service, which assesses the needs of the individual and creates a support plan tailored to their needs. The organisation has consistently advocated for improved, user-led home care services for older people, so that they access the supports they need to age at home as they wish, for as long as they wish. While ALONE had previously seen requests for support from older people who are medically and socially vulnerable, they are reporting an increase in those who are recently finding themselves at a loss of independence due to the pandemic.

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, stated; “On this Global Dignity Day, we would like to remind any older person who may be struggling to reach out to ALONE for support, assistance and advice; you are not alone. Our support coordination service is in place to ensure that older people receive the support they need to live their best life. We have identified new types of older people coming to us for support subsequent to the constraints of the pandemic – we are here for you too!”

He continued, “It is important for people to remember that we will all age eventually, and we will all need supports someday. On this Global Dignity Day, we are encouraging members of the public to reach out to older people in their lives and to check on them regularly. Often older people can feel embarrassed when asking for help, but a brief phone call to check in on them could encourage them to get in touch with a support organisation for assistance. The Level 5 restrictions set to be imposed from midnight tonight will see many people being stripped of their independence once more, but we must remember that for those who are medically vulnerable this is a feeling they are already acquainted with.”

ALONE is encouraging older people who need advice to call ALONE on, 0818 222 024 from 8am-8pm, seven days a week. The helpline, which is running in collaboration with the Department of Health, the HSE and Local Authorities, is available to all older people including those who have not used ALONE’s services previously.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dignity

ALONE responds to measures in Budget 2021 for older people

The organisation has highlighted failings for older people in Budget 2021.

Dublin, 13th October 2020   ALONE, the organisation that supports older people, has responded to today’s Budget, by welcoming the increased investment in health care for older people but has additionally highlighted some failings of Budget 2021.

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, commented; “ALONE are delighted to see the increased investment in healthcare such as the home care support hours and the increased capacity, this is something that we, at ALONE, and other organisations have been advocating for in the past number of years. This additional funding will provide much needed extra support and supplementary staff to help older people age at home for as long as possible.”

However, Mr. Moynihan expressed concern at Budget 2021. “We are disappointed to see that older people were not mentioned enough in this budget and the measures did not adequately reflect the pre-existing and exasperated challenges faced by older people in today’s world. We are also disheartened to see the Government has failed to set the State Pension at the average weekly wage agreed in their own Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018 – 2023.

While the organisation welcomed the increase in the Living Alone Allowance and Fuel Allowance, there is concern whether the increase in energy usage and provider prices, will be offset by the €3.50 fuel allowance increase. Commenting on this Seán Moynihan continued, “We are looking forward to seeing more detail of the fuel allowance increase and how or if it will offset the increase in utility bills being experienced by older people this year.”

ALONE call on members of the public celebrate the contribution of older people on National Grandparents Day 2020

The organisation is encouraging members of the public to reach out and celebrate older people in their lives who would enjoy some company.

Dublin, 5 October 2020:    ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, is asking members of the public to reach out to any older people in their lives this year on National Grandparents Day, 6th October 2020. The purpose of the day is to honour grandparents, to show bond between grandparents and children, and to help children and the public to celebrate and be aware of the strength, information, and guidance older people can offer.

The organisation wants to encourage conversation, community and celebration between all older people on this day, and younger as not all older people have grandchildren especially in these uncertain times.

ALONE has also been in touch with primary and secondary schools across the country to encourage pupils and staff to get in touch with an older person in their lives who may be feeling lonely, who are social isolating or cocooning, by suggesting a number of ways for pupils and staff to safely interact with older people in their lives. The organisation has suggested that individuals reach out to older people via phone calls or video calls.

ALONE has also suggested that young people use common interests to reach out to older people in their lives, such as learning a new hobby or watching a new series together. The organisation believes that solidarity between young people and older people is more important than ever amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said, “National Grandparents Day is celebrated each year to honour the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren. However, as some older people do not have grandchildren, ALONE are encouraging members of the public to reach out and safely interact with older people in their lives through phone calls, socially distant visits or learning a new hobby together. People often underestimate the value of their time when it comes to older people. Spending just an hour or two a week with an older person can provide wonderful support and can greatly improve mental and physical wellbeing. In addition, older people have so knowledge and wisdom to share and have ability to guide shape and inspire us all”

He continued, “Loneliness is a serious issue among older people which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19, and we believe the long-term mental health impacts of loneliness will continue to affect older people long after the pandemic has passed.  Younger people have also lost the contacts they have with the older people in their lives and this impact is not to be under estimated. We are asking members of the public to get in touch with any older people in their lives who may be finding things difficult at the moment. It is important to maintain regular contact with older people, in a way that is safe and in line with the current health guidelines. We are also encouraging any older person who is experiencing loneliness to get in touch with us. Our volunteers are continuing to provide telephone support for older people and are making regular phone calls for reassurance and social support.”

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.

Irish Gerontological Society & ALONE Willie Bermingham Lecture to take place virtually on UN International Day for Older Persons

ALONE and The Irish Gerontological Society proudly welcome key speaker Executive Director at the World Health Organisation Health Emergencies Programme, Dr Michael Ryan.

Dublin, 1 October 2020:    ALONE and the Irish Gerontological Society (IGS) are delighted to present this year’s IGS ALONE Willie Bermingham Lecture, “Changing Horizons in Gerontology – United in Solidarity with Older People”, taking place this Thursday on UN International Day for Older Persons, which celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year. For the first time, the lecture will be presented as an online event from 2pm-3.30pm, in line with current COVID-19 guidelines.

The IGS ALONE Willie Bermingham Lectureis the keynote address at the Annual & Scientific Meeting of the Irish Gerontological Society. Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director at the World Health Organisation Health Emergencies Programme, will be a key speaker at this year’s event, delivering a lecture on ‘Lessons from COVID 19 and how we can improve care and support for older people in our community’. ALONE and the IGS have assembled an esteemed panel for the lecture, which includes medical experts in older people’s health and advocates for older people’s rights.

Dr. Diarmuid O’Shea, President of the Irish Gerontological Society and consultant physician in geriatric medicine at St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, will act as Chairperson of the lecture. Dr O’Shea will give an opening address ahead of the lecture where panellists will be introduced and invited to participate to provide their insights towards the theme of this year’s lecture – ‘United in Solidarity with Older People’.

Dr. Diarmuid O’Shea, President of the Irish Gerontological Society stated, “I am delighted Dr Mike Ryan is addressing the Irish Gerontological Society on United Nations International Day of Older Persons.  By honouring us with his contribution we also acknowledge the wonderful work he has done around the world in shaping the response to managing this and other pandemics.  We look forward to hearing Dr Ryan’s insights into how, we as a country, can learn lessons from our collective experiences of battling COVID 19 and other pandemics to improve how we deliver support and care to all of us as we age in Ireland.”

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said, “The emergence of COVID-19 has caused an upheaval across the globe, with older people among the most affected groups. We are very pleased to have Dr. Ryan on board for this year’s ALONE IGS Willie Bermingham lecture to address the new and challenging issues faced by older people in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and discuss the steps that can be taken to support older people in communities across the country. We cannot forget about our older people amid this crisis; on this year’s UN International Day of Older Persons, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, it is important that we acknowledge the impact of the pandemic on our older people, and work with and for them to assist them through this difficult time.”

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

‘Together celebrating and connecting older people in our communities with ALONE’

ALONE announce month-long partnership with Guinness across the airwaves

Dublin, 29th September 2020:  ALONE, the organisation which supports older people launched their month-long partnership with Media Central’s network of radio and digital brands this week. The partnership is driven primarily through Today FM’s Fergal D’Arcy show, weekdays from 2 – 4.30 pm. and aims to ‘celebrate and connect older people in our communities’ throughout the month and will share conversations from older people who use ALONE’s services alongside volunteers who are intrinsic to ALONE’s mission and work as they are interlinked in all areas of the organisation. ALONE are encouraging those who wish to make a donation throughout the month to visit alone.ie/donate/.  

The vision of ALONE is a society where older people are included as valued and empowered members of the community. Brands within the Media Central portfolio including Today FM, Newstalk & Off The Ball will encourage positive news stories, conversation and collaboration of support throughout the month. In addition to this, there will be time dedicated across the radio group’s regional network of stations – iRadio, SPINSouthwest, SPIN1038, 98FM, Classic Hits and Beat where you will hear uplifting stories from people around the Country talking about their personal experiences whether it was seeking help, advocacy and working with or for ALONE.

The partnership is supported by Guinness, a long-standing partner of ALONE. In March this year, Guinness announced the establishment of a €1.5 million fund providing support to communities affected by COVID-19 in Ireland. A portion of that fund was provided to ALONE to support older, vulnerable people in our communities. The fund helps to maintain ALONE’s capabilities to support and recognise communities in Ireland who continue to face into unprecedented challenges from the impact of COVID-19 and is helping ALONE to sustain providing vital services to older people who require additional supports at this time. ALONE enable older people to access relevant services to live happily in the community and to support them to age at home through support coordination, Befriending, Housing with Support and Campaigning.

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said, “ALONE’s partnership with Guinness playing across the national and regional airwaves is such an important project for us where we aim to raise awareness of the organisation while reminding people of the services we provide for older people all across the Nation. Our National Support Line has become a key identifier of our services throughout COVID-19, however, we want people all across Ireland to know that we provide an integrated system of Support Coordination, Practical Supports, Befriending, a variety of Phone Services, Social Prescribing, Housing with Support, and assistive technology, nationally.”

He continued, “It couldn’t be a more fitting week to celebrate this partnership as it coincides with the International Day of the Older Person. We want to use our partnership as a vehicle to celebrate, champion and connect the older people in our communities to the existing community that is readily available around them. Older people have demonstrated their resilience when faced with a challenge and we want to continue to support them where necessary. Now more than ever, it is even more critical that we engage with and support our older people as we age positively in Ireland.”

Oliver Loomes, Managing Director of Diageo Ireland, said: “It is more important than ever to support vulnerable groups in our communities as we face unprecedented challenges from the impact of COVID-19. Guinness is proud to work with ALONE and Media Central to celebrate and connect older people in our communities, and to promote the much-needed services ALONE provides nationwide”.

Katharine Wolinska, Partnership and Solutions Manager in Media Central said, ‘This partnership is one of the most important and rewarding campaigns that our stations and our presenters have had the privilege to work on, in what has been a very strange few months for our audiences.

Using all the brands within the network allows us to raise awareness of ALONE’s services across all of our audiences, speaking to each in a relevant way to encourage donations to what is a hugely worthy organisation.  It’s an honour for ourselves and all of our stations to partner with Guinness and ALONE and we’re really excited for the next month of content.’

Today FM’s Fergal D’arcy said: ‘Everyone here at Today FM are excited and proud to be part of this Guinness-supported campaign for ALONE celebrating and connecting older people and communities all across the community.  It’s a real privilege to be able to talk to people on a daily basis and in particular bringing companionship to the elderly and lonely.  We’re proud to work with ALONE and Guinness on this project to help raise much needed funds.’

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.

ALONE addresses issues that affect older people in Ireland ahead of Budget 2021

The organisation is calling on Government to support and safeguard older people in the upcoming Budget

Dublin, 27 September 2020:    ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, is calling on Government to use  Budget 2021 as an opportunity to start the process  to provide the services , support and structures for an aging population  ALONE  believes this year has shown how  necessary it is  to improve the quality of life for older people in Ireland.

ALONE would also like to see the provision of the health services outlined in the winter plan maintained and funded on an ongoing basis. This creates a wonderful opportunity to integrate all services, so people can age at home for longer and have a higher quality of life.  While this budget finally addresses and funds issues such as loneliness, ALONE believe it should also move home care get an extra €130 million to meet the proven demand that is out there. To do this, ALONE is calling on Government to maintain the number of home care hours available to older people in the winter plan, and increase them on an ongoing basis.

In the area of housing, Budget 2021 should allocate another €85 million to housing aid for older people and those with a disability. This budget should address the housing needs in order to meet the growing demands of Ireland’s ageing population. We would like to see a budget commitment to scale with the numbers of housing with onsite support, based on the model outlined in Rebuilding Ireland.

As we move into the colder months, ALONE is calling on Government to ring-fence revenue from the Carbon Tax on measures that will eliminate fuel poverty, and exempt those in receipt of the Fuel Allowance from the Carbon Tax. The organisation is also calling for the Fuel Allowance to be kept at 32-weeks and restoring purchasing power back to 2010 levels at €25.30.

ALONE are in agreement with government policy, outlined in the Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018 – 2023, that pension rates should be equal to average weekly earnings. Ultimately, ALONE are seeking to work towards an overall increase of €26.92 to the state pension, raising it to €275.22. This is based on 35% of an average weekly wage of €786.33, as per data from the Central Statistics Office in 2019 (CSO, Q4 2019). Budget 2021 should work towards this figure, beginning with a €7 increase in the state P

pension. The organisation is also calling on Government Protect the Christmas bonus and the free travel pass for over-65’s

While ALONE welcome the news that the government will implement an auto-enrolment system for pensions, the organisation would like to see a clear timeline for its implementation, with more details announced on this as soon as possible.

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said, “Many people assume that older people have their financial needs met by their state pension. However, financial hardship is often a hidden issue among older people and one not many are willing to talk about. And yet, financial difficulties are the third most common issue experienced by older people who come to ALONE for support. At ALONE, we work with people who are experiencing financial difficulties and support them to overcome them.”

He continued, “The state pension in Ireland is based on the assumption that the recipient has no mortgage, rent or other housing debt to be covered by the pension payment. It is designed to cover the cost of living, but not every day living costs. This issue will be only exacerbated in the coming years by our growing population, which is causing an increase in those over the age of 65.  It is vital that policymakers and the public at large recognise that there are many older people who struggle to make ends meet. Budget 2021 must be a budget that allows meets the complex needs of older people and allows them to have a quality of life.”

‘’After some delays the last few years in the implementation of Slaintecare, we must maintain the funding now put into place for this winter. We must fund services in our community and finally provide the funding that will plan for an aging population. This will allow older people to age with confidence, security and dignity in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.’’

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

ALONE welcomes publication of HSE Winter Plan 2020/21

The organisation has also welcomed the Home First approach, which will provide extensive home support packages to people with complex needs including older people.

Dublin, 24 September 2020: ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, has welcomed publication of the HSE’s Winter Plan for 2020/21. The organisation also supports the implementation of the Home First approach, which aims to provide home support packages to people with complex needs such as older people, and sees this as a positive step in enabling older people to age at home on their own terms.

The Winter Plan, which has been published today, aims to alleviate some of the unprecedented issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and is expected to cost just over €600 million. The main points in the plan include increased numbers of hospital beds available, improved diagnostic services, additional specialist teams and increased numbers of COVID-19 tests per week. The plan also includes the implementation of over 4.7 million additional home support hours by the end of April 2021, which will greatly benefit older people who may require assistance to remain at home.

The Home First approach brought terms is what ALONE and many other in the community and health services have campaigned for many years. It is a targeted work programme, which seeks to double the number of existing home support hours in order to offer full support to individuals with high and moderate levels of frailty, including people with dementia. This approach will include the roll out of a single assessment tool, which will support the Department of Health with the establishment of an interim Home Support Scheme this winter in advance of legislation.

The plan also proposes increased GP access to diagnostics, meaning that the number of older people being referred to outpatient clinics and Emergency Departments will be reduced, which in turn will reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. GP’s will now have three pathways to support patient discharge, using an assessment model in which all decisions are based on the ‘home first’ principle.

These are;

1. Home with community support and package of care (Home Support);

2. Home with re-ablement package of care;

3. Extensive Home Support packages for those with complex assessment of care needs in order to avoid Long Term Care; and

4. Increase Home Support hours provided to existing clients.1

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, said, “We are very pleased that the HSE Winter Plan has taken into account the various challenges faced by older people; challenges which have been compounded by the arrival of COVID-19 in Ireland during this March. We welcome the implementation of measures which will further safeguard vulnerable members of society, such as older people. This is a difficult time of year

for many, so to have this plan in place is a huge step in terms of safeguarding older people who are particularly vulnerable at this time of year.”

He continued, “ALONE believe that to make this a reality we will need to integrate services in the community with these enhancements to the medical service. As we shift the focus to the home, there needs to be a greater variety of supports and a range of services, that are not just medical, to allow older people to live independently at home, on their own terms. The issue is that current home care services solely relate to ‘personal care’ and does not extend to practical household services. We believe that with the implementation of the Home First approach older people will have a greater say in how they age at home. The NGO Sector looks forward to how we can integrate and support this plan while we also see them major challenges in the amount of changes needed in the health care system to make this happen.”

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.

ALONE thanks volunteers and organisations for their support during COVID-19

The organisation is grateful for the continued support of volunteers, community groups and organisations individuals across the country

Dublin, 21 September 2020:    ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, wish to offer their sincere thanks to all volunteers, donors and partner organisations for their continued support for ALONE’s work with older people. As the organisation celebrates National Volunteer Week this week, the organisation believes that it is important to highlight the important work carried out by its volunteers since the arrival of COVID-19 in Ireland.

Volunteering has been a key principle of ALONE’s vision where staff and volunteers work together to support older people to age at home. The organisation would not be able to provide such a wide range of services to the older people who need them without the support of their network of volunteers, donors and partner organisations. ALONE is grateful for the hard work and dedication of its volunteers, and would like to remind all volunteers of the importance of taking some time out to focus on their own individual health and wellbeing during these uncertain times.

ALONE currently has volunteer working across a wide range of support services; such as National Support Helpline Volunteers, Telephone Support and Befriending Volunteers, Visitation and Support Befriending Volunteers, Fundraising Volunteers, Administration Volunteers, Board members and other project volunteers. Since the onset of COVID-19, alone have adapted their volunteer training and are currently using a blended approach to deliver training modules to volunteers across the country, with over 1,200 volunteers have completed training online.

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said, “On this National Volunteer week, it is important to acknowledge all of the hard work and dedication of our wonderful volunteers. Volunteering is intrinsic to ALONE’s work and is interlinked in all areas of our organisation. Put quite simply, ALONE would not be able to provide the services it does to the Older People of Ireland without the support of our amazing network of volunteers, therefore we would like to extend our sincere gratitude to each and every individual involved with our work.”

He continued, “One of the positives that we have seen through the course of the pandemic is the amount of people wanting to volunteer and to see the wonderful work they do every day to help support older people throughout Ireland. Our volunteers quietly go about their work, with great humility and compassion and change older people’s lives for the better every day.”

This time last year, ALONE had 1,845 volunteers engaged in its work supporting older people across the country. That figure has grown over the last twelve months, with 2,862 volunteers engaged in this work today. This Increase shows the level of demand for our services and the wonderful response from the community to support our work. Everyone in ALONE understands the value of our volunteers and our staff work hard to ensure they are trained, supported and acknowledged for all the great work they do.

Due to the increasing ageing population in Ireland, ALONE will grow its volunteer numbers to around 9,000 in the next few years and will make more roles available for prospective volunteers. The organisation also intends to further implement the use of technology to assist volunteers to connect with older people engaged with ALONE’s services. For information on volunteering with ALONE, email [email protected] with your full name, phone contact details and location, or visit www.alone.ie

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.

ALONE welcomes the intricacies of six-month Resilience Recovery plan

The Government’s medium-term approach to COVID-19 is welcomed by the organisation who continually advocate for long term plans for older people

Dublin, 16 September 2020:    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.

ALONE highlights increased loneliness among older people as COVID-19 pandemic continues

The organisation is concerned with the negative impact of loneliness on older people’s mental health

Dublin, 10 September 2020:    ALONE, the organisation which supports older people is calling on members of the public to reach out to older people in their lives who may be feeling particularly isolated at the moment due to the current COVID-19 guidelines. The organisation is concerned by the negative impact of loneliness on older people’s mental health, and is asking the public to continue to reach out and stay in touch with their older relatives, neighbours and friends.

ALONE have been campaigning for many years around the implications of loneliness and with the establishment of The Loneliness Taskforce in 2018, they continue to advocate towards coordinating a response to the epidemic of loneliness and social isolation in Ireland. In order to combat loneliness, the taskforce established five principle actions; responsibility allocated to a specific Minister and Government Department; a public campaign to be undertaken; support offered to initiatives and organisations which alleviate loneliness as their primary function; an action plan for volunteering is initiated; and Irish-specific research on loneliness is undertaken. There is now an urgency to see these actions fast-tracked due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The organisation has seen an increase in the number of callers reporting negative emotions over the last six months, with many more people recording feelings of loneliness and social isolation. While the organisation acknowledges that the current guidelines are in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus and protect vulnerable groups, ALONE have already reported an increase in a wide range of mental health impacts among older people. This is directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as a result of prolonged periods of cocooning and limited social contact. ALONE would also like to remind older people that their services continue to be available to any older person who needs advice or support during this time. ALONE are equipped with almost 3,000 volunteers who have worked tirelessly before and during this pandemic.

Data included in the Loneliness and social isolation in the COVID-19 Pandemic among the over 70s[1] by ALONE and The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) in July 2020 showed that one-third of those aged 50 and older felt lonely at least some of the time. The study also showed that loneliness is most prevalent among over-75s and those living alone. Many of the older people who have contacted ALONE in the past six months are living alone and are most at risk of experiencing loneliness and isolation.

For some older people, loneliness is an unfamiliar issue, which will cease to affect them with community supports; for others, unfortunately this is an ongoing state of being. ALONE are determined to ensure every older person has access to the supports that they need to combat loneliness and live a happy and fulfilled life. If someone calls or is referred to ALONE, the organisation can arrange to contact an older person several times a week or every day if this support is needed, with this service set to continue after the current crisis.

Jane* called ALONE’s Support Line as she has been feeling it very lonely since the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions. Before the restrictions came into place, she was very active and social, and was part of two groups that met weekly. ALONE informed her about their telephone support services, and she said that she would love a weekly call. Jane’s daughter did her shopping for months during the pandemic, but last week Jane went back to her local shop and felt very nervous.

Since March, ALONE’s National Support Line has received in excess of 31,993 calls for support. ALONE staff and volunteers have made more than 177,280 calls to older people who needed support, and provided more than 3,102 units of practical support, delivered from the support line, staff and volunteers. ALONE is providing ongoing support to more than 14,745 older people who require support for difficulties with loneliness, health, finance, housing, accessing services, COVID-19 and other challenges.

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said, “Loneliness is a serious issue among older people which has been exacerbated by the current situation, and we believe the long-term mental health impacts of loneliness will continue to affect older people long after the pandemic has passed. We have continually called for the national strategy on loneliness to address this issue on a long-term basis to be implemented and need to see this come into play rapidly. We are receiving a huge number of phone calls from older people who are feeling lonely and isolated having now spent six months limiting their social contact in their homes, and we believe this will become more difficult as we move into the winter months.”

He continued, “We are asking members of the public to keep in touch with the older people in their lives during what is a very difficult time for many. It is important to maintain contact with older people

So far, the level of support we have seen from communities across the country has been phenomenal, and we hope this will continue. We are also encouraging any older person who is experiencing loneliness to get in touch with us. Our volunteers are continuing to provide telephone support for older people and are making regular phone calls for reassurance and social support.”

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.


[1] https://tilda.tcd.ie/publications/reports/pdf/Report_Covid19SocialIsolation.pdf