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

Dublin, 30th March 2020:   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.

COUNCIL PARTNERS WITH ALONE TO HELP OLDER PEOPLE DURING CRISIS

The organisation which supports older people is working with a number of partner organisations to align its support services for older people

PRESS RELEASE

Dublin, Tuesday 24th March Dublin City Council has announced a new partnership with ALONE to provide support and assistance to older people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Along with Pobal and the Dublin City Age Friendly Alliance, these partner organisations will be working together to align with the sector, streamline requests for help, and ensure that vulnerable older people across the country receive the support and assistance that they need.

ALONE currently operates a national support line for older people that was set up in collaboration with the HSE and the Department of Health. The line is active from 8am to 8pm seven days a week, and has received more than 3,300 calls to date.

Commenting on the partnership the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Tom Brabazon, stated “While we find ourselves in an unprecedented situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that we look after the members of society who are most at risk. The reality for a lot of elderly people in this situation is that they are too scared to go outside in case they come into contact with a carrier of the disease and fall ill with the virus. By working together, we can ensure that when these older people call the support line they are given the advice and help that they need by a trained staff member.”

The support line is to be a single point of contact from which all requests can be assessed and processed appropriately. This will be achieved by bringing together An Garda Síochána, community partners, volunteers and Dublin City Council to provide a national response and create a model that other groups and local authorities can replicate. The organisations will work together to ensure that all staff and volunteers providing supports are fully trained and Garda vetted, and adhere to best practice guidelines for dealing with older people. The group will also work towards developing long term relationships in the event of other crises in the future and to main a link with the older people in our community.

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, said, “The main requests that our phone operators are getting at the moment are for information and daily contact but as we move to the next phase there is increasing demand for deliveries of food, medication and fuel, which are things that most people take for granted. We hope that this partnership will enable us to increase the levels of support that we already offer to older people across the country, who may be feeling scared or isolated due to the necessary health restrictions imposed to stop the spread of Coronavirus. We are already working with multiple partners and going forward we will involve other organisations to help address health and wellbeing issues.”

ALONE are working to add other local authorities to this partnership. Several other County Councils have indicated their interest and it is hoped that this partnership can provide a model of how the community and voluntary sector can work together with the local authorities throughout this crisis.

Beatrice Casserly who heads up the Dublin City Age Friendly Programme added, “Many older people are self-isolating as a precautionary measure to avoid contracting Coronavirus, however this can make everyday tasks such as grocery shopping or collecting prescriptions impossible. With the introduction of a streamlined support service, we can ensure that these people are looked after

when they most need it. Until the curve has been flattened and it is safe for normal life to resume, our organisations will work together to protect the vulnerable members of our community.”

Assistant Commissioner Orla McPartlin, An Garda Síochána stated, “An Garda Síochána is pleased to support this worthwhile initiative between ALONE and Dublin City Council by providing as much support as possible during these challenging times. I wish to reaffirm the public commitment made by Deputy Commissioner John Twomey on behalf of An Garda Síochána to support the most vulnerable in our society, particularly our elderly and isolated. An Garda Síochána has always worked closely with our communities and we continue to do so in these extraordinary times. We look forward to the continued collaborative efforts with local authorities and community groups such as Alone and others.”

ALONE continues to take calls from concerned older people through their COVID-19 support line

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.

ALONE extends opening times of COVID-19 phone line for older people as it receives hundreds of calls

ALONE calls on community to support older people who may be vulnerable

Dublin, 19 March 2020: ALONE, the organisation that supports older people, has received hundreds of calls to their COVID-19 support line for older people since it launched on Monday, and has extended its opening hours to include Saturdays and Sundays.

ALONE has received increasing numbers of phone calls from older people looking for support and reassurance throughout the week, including on Saturday and Sunday, and has added extra staff on the lines to meet the demand.

The charity expects the daily number of phone calls to increase further as Department of Health advice to older people and vulnerable groups to reduce their contacts outside their home is implemented by older people in the community.

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, will also be open on St Patrick’s Day. The service is available to all older people including those who have not used ALONE’s services previously. The support line is 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.

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.

“Every person has a responsibility to those who are vulnerable in their communities. Every decision, big and small, matters and can have an impact on the people around you. It is vital that the community pulls together now and that everyone plays their part to ensure older people and those who are most vulnerable are supported,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan.

“Earlier in the week we were hearing from older people who needed some reassurance and who were feeling anxious about the outbreak. Now, and particularly over the weekend, 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 encouraging older people who need support to get in touch with ALONE by calling 0818 222 024, and we will provide the support they need, ourselves and with our partner organisations. 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.”

As well as providing the helpline, advice, reassurance, and support with tasks including grocery and prescription collection and drop off, ALONE is also offering regular check in calls to older people who may feel isolated or want regular contact throughout this period. This is made possible by ALONE’s telephone support infrastructure, partner organisations, and more than 2,000 ALONE volunteers. Last year ALONE and its volunteers made 97,345 phone calls to older people throughout the year.

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 you know, 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.

ALONE launch a COVID-19 support line for older people Working in collaboration with the Department of Health and the HSE

ALONE announce national support line and additional supports and outreach for older people

PRESS RELEASE

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.

ALONE encourage older people to remain calm and take preventative health measures as COVID-19 is confirmed in Ireland

Dublin, 2nd March 2020   ALONE is urging older people to take extra care and observe guidelines from the HSE and Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) following the announcement of a case of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in the east of Ireland. Older people may be more vulnerable to viruses such as COVID-19, due to compromised or weakened immune systems or pre-existing health issues. ALONE is advising older people to remain calm and follow the relevant preventative measures to stay well in order to reduce their risk of contracting the virus.

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE commented, “We advise that older people remain calm yet vigilant until the threat of coronavirus subsides. Viruses such as these often pose more of a threat to older people, who may have compromised immune systems or pre-existing health conditions.  45% of the people who use ALONE’s services are over the age of 80, and understandably outbreaks such as this can be very worrying. Over the next few days, ALONE’s services will be reaching out to older people in the community who may be vulnerable or concerned, to offer them the support and advice that they need. We are also reaching out to the HSE to coordinate our response.”

ALONE advises that older people practice the following precautions to reduce the general risk of acute respiratory infections while out and about:

  • Wash hands regularly, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment.
  • Avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections or other illnesses.
  • Individuals with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands).

Moynihan continued, “It is important that older people follow all HSE guidelines and take all preventative measures as recommended; wash your hands regularly and use alcohol based hand sanitizer to prevent the spread of bacteria. It is also important that individuals of all ages, though they may not be among vulnerable groups themselves, remember to be conscious of their potential to spread Coronavirus and other winter illnesses, and to take similar precautions.”

Any person concerned that they may have symptoms of Coronavirus should immediately isolate themselves from others and contact their GP by phone. ALONE is advising older people who are concerned about their own wellbeing to be mindful of good hygiene practices, to contact their local GP or healthcare provider by telephone and to ask for assistance and help if needed.

Contact ALONE 0818 222 024 if you have concerns about your own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of a vulnerable older person in the community. Further information, including advice and tips for older people in extreme weather conditions, can be found on www.alone.ie.

Additional information can be found via the following links

World Health Organisation

ECDC

HPSC

ENDS

ALONE calls for action on housing and health for older people ahead of General Election

ALONE is urging candidates and voters to prioritise the needs of older people as they go to the polls

  • There are more than 7,000 people on the waiting list for the Home Support service.
  • More than 13,400 people over the age of 75 waited on trolleys or chairs for more than 24 hours in A&Es up to November 2019.
  • The number of people aged 70 and over in need of social housing has increased by 9.9% in just one year.
  • There are 20,000 more older people in poverty now than there were last year.
  • The number of people aged 65 and over is projected to increase from 630,000 in 2016 to just under 1.6 million by 2051.

Dublin, 24 January: ALONE, the organisation that supports older people to age at home, has called on General Election candidates to prioritise actions on housing and health for older people as they released their manifesto today ahead of the February 8th General Election. 

The organisation is calling on candidates to commit to four key asks ahead of the election to ensure the diverse needs of older people are included in the next programme for government. ALONE also criticised the lack of vision and funding dedicated to older people’s services which is resulting in the basic needs of older people going unmet, particularly in the areas of housing and health.

“There are 20,000 more older people in poverty now than there were last year. There are more than 7,000 people on the waiting list for home support. The number of people aged 70 and over in need of social housing has increased by 9.9% in just one year. These numbers are stark and they highlight the real experiences of older people in Ireland today,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan.

“Older people need more than a commitment to a fairer State Pension. We need representatives who will deliver real change for the older people we work with who are experiencing homelessness, who can’t afford to heat their homes, who are on hospital trollies, on waiting lists for home supports and those who are lonely and isolated from support structures,” he continued. “While we have seen progress and commitments in relation to some of these areas, ultimately the people we support need to see real action now, not in five or ten years’ time. Older people need financial security, safe housing, support with health and wellbeing, and to have their voices heard, but ultimately these needs are going unmet for many. We need to urgently rethink how we are supporting older people, particularly in the context of our ageing population.”

To achieve this, ALONE is asking candidates to commit to:

  1. Fund home supports and health services which enable older people to age at home
  2. Set targets for housing for older people and link to supports to prevent a worsening housing crisis for older people
  3. Halt increases to the pension age and triple lock the State Pension
  4. Appoint a Minister of state exclusively for Older People and Demographic Change

ALONE noted the importance of broadening the conversation around the policy needs of older people.

“Health and housing are the primary needs of the older people we work with. Issues including being on the waiting list for home support, spending days and nights on hospital trolleys, and the difficulties with the health services are issues which directly impact a large number of the older people we work with,” Moynihan continued. “We work with older people in their 80s receiving notices to quit, and others sleeping on friends’ sofas because they have nowhere else to go. These are the types of challenges that the older people we work with need addressed.”

“We must widen the scope of the conversation and ensure that the diverse needs of older people are being considered at the highest levels of Government. These are not currently being seriously addressed. The National Positive Ageing Strategy, which was published in 2013 and has not yet been implemented or funded nor are we fully implementing or funding Sláintecare. The next Taoiseach must commit to appointing a Minister of State for Older People and Demographic Change in their department to meet these needs and to plan for the opportunities and challenges of our ageing population,” he continued.

ALONE’s manifesto includes asks to deliver a demand-led, quality-driven statutory home support service; deliver a national strategy on loneliness and publicly allocate loneliness to a Government department; increase Rebuilding Ireland housing targets and delivery to meet demand levels; deliver homelessness exit programmes for older people; implement benchmarking and triple lock the State Pension; and to appoint a Minister of State for Older People and Demographic Change.

“We are asking the public to inform canvassers and candidates that they will consider the needs of older people a priority when making their decisions on Election Day. Prioritising the needs of older people is something that people of all ages should take an interest in. Ultimately this is a vote not just for older people today, but for everyone in the years to come,” concluded Moynihan.

ALONE’s full General Election Manifesto is available online here: https://alone.ie/campaigns/general-election-campaign/

About ALONE

ALONE is a national organisation that supports and empowers older people to age happily and securely at home. We support individuals and their families, work with other organisations, and campaign nationwide to improve the lives of older people. We work with all older people, including those who are lonely, isolated, homeless, living in poverty, experiencing illness or frailty, or are facing other difficulties. We support them through these challenges to help them find long term solutions.

ALONE provide Support and Befriending, Coordinated Support, Age-friendly Housing, and technology and community services. We use individualised support plans and provide one point of contact for older people to access health, social care, housing and other services to improve physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. ALONE enables outcomes including improved quality of life, community activation, and implementation of national strategies.

ALONE and Dublin City Council urge communities to reach out to older people this winter

Lord Mayor launches ALONE and Dublin City Council Cold Weather Initiative

Dublin, 2nd December 2019  Lord Mayor of Dublin, Paul Mc Auliffe, launched Dublin City Council and ALONE’s cold weather campaign outside Bewley’s Café on Grafton Street today. Dublin City Council’s Community Development Section, in association with ALONE, the Gardaí, Dublin Fire Brigade, and StayWell Pharmacies is urging members of the public to check in on older people in their community this winter.

Lord Mayor Paul Mc Auliffe said, “The colder winter months can be a difficult time for many people who are vulnerable and may be feeling isolated. We are appealing to all Dubliners and indeed people across the country to be mindful of older people in our communities who may live alone or be at risk of struggling with loneliness, health difficulties or fuel poverty.

This campaign represents the community and the whole city working together to make a difference in the lives of older people, many of whom face worries about warmth, shelter and essentials such as food and medication at this time of year. I am confident that Dubliners will respond with our usual sense of kindness, compassion and goodness.”

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE commented, “Colder temperatures can have a serious impact on the health and safety of older people, and Ireland has among the highest levels of excess winter mortality in Europe. We regularly work with older people who don’t have central heating, live in challenging housing conditions, and even people who have used their free travel and stayed on buses and trains during the day to keep warm. It’s really important that we reach out to people who may be finding things difficult due to ill health, financial worries, or housing difficulties. We hope that by spreading this message and by reaching out, more people will stay safe and well this winter.”

Moynihan continued, “According to reports by TILDA, around 1 in 10 older people have problems heating their home, and nearly half have experienced problems with damp, mould or mildew. We encourage anyone who may be concerned about their own wellbeing or someone else’s to reach out for assistance from ALONE if needed. We want people to know that ALONE is here to help with any problems they may have this winter, from housing conditions to loneliness.”

ALONE have also partnered with StayWell pharmacies this winter. Anyone interested in supporting older people to stay warm in winter can donate new hot water bottles, blankets, gloves, slippers and more through donation boxes in nine StayWell pharmacies nationwide, which ALONE will distribute to older people who need them. Donations can be made directly to ALONE on www.alone/donate

ALONE is encouraging older people to prioritise their spending on heating during the winter months. ALONE have staff ready to act on requests for assistance and can advise on issues relating to food, heat, utilities or medication.

Further information, including advice and tips for older people in cold weather conditions, can be found on www.alone.ie.

Contact ALONE on 0818 222 024 if you have concerns about your own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of a vulnerable older person in the community. For more information visit www.alone.ie  

The campaign is part of Dublin City Council’s commitment to an Age-Friendly City.

Make Your Minutes Count with ALONE this Christmas

“Older people have the most amazing stories to tell”: Marian Keyes joins ALONE in asking the public to reach out and spend some time with older people spending Christmas alone

Dublin, 15th November 2019 ALONE, the organisation that supports older people to age at home, has today launched their Christmas campaign, which encourages members of the public to make their minutes count by working together to tackle loneliness and isolation.

Author Marian Keyes launched the organisation’s Christmas campaign, to encourage members of the public to take a few minutes out of their day to interact with their older neighbours and relatives who may be experiencing feelings of loneliness as the festive season approaches.

ALONE is also asking for support from new volunteers and donors to help to support them to combat loneliness and other challenges faced by older people. One in ten people over 75 are lonely a lot of the time and demand for ALONE’s services has increased five-fold in recent years. One in 4 older people live alone, and this increases in rural areas.

Marian commented, “I’m delighted to be helping ALONE launch their Christmas campaign this year, to spread awareness of such an important issue. I admire the work that they do with older people and I’m so happy to be a part of such a positive message. Loneliness and isolation can be serious problems for older people and dropping in for a chat or helping a neighbour with their shopping could make all the difference to their mental health. We’ve all felt alone at certain times in our lives, sometimes all it takes is a cup of tea and a bit of a laugh to really lift an older person’s spirits.  A few minutes may not mean much to you, but to a lonely older person it could be the highlight of their day.”

She continued, “As we age, it can be more difficult to reach out to people for companionship; a lot of older people might be embarrassed or too proud to admit that they are lonely. What might only seem like a quick chat to you can make an older person feel loved, appreciated, and that they are part of the community. Older people have the most amazing stories to tell and it’s really important that we take the time to listen. Christmas provides people with the perfect opportunity to drop in on older neighbours and relatives for a few mince pies and a chat.”

ALONE depends on the generosity of the public for support through volunteering and donations. As part of a range of services, ALONE provides a Support and Befriending service, which is designed to alleviate the negative impacts loneliness has on mental and physical health. Volunteers are trained and supported by experienced staff, and provide older people with companionship and practical support.

“It takes us ten minutes to introduce an older person to their new volunteer, but it can lead to years of companionship and friendship and it can change someone’s life. In the run up to Christmas none of us ever seem to have enough time to do all the things we need to do. We know that not everyone has the time to volunteer with ALONE – but it only takes a minute to donate and to help us to continue to do the work we do. Demand for our services has increased five-fold in recent years and we are reliant on the support of the public to keep delivering our services. €10 can pay for an hour of support from ALONE,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan.

Moynihan continued, “Loneliness is a crisis experienced by thousands of older people and it’s important to remember that there are many older people who will spend the festive period alone. Loneliness is a year-round issue but it can be particularly difficult during the festive and winter periods. 45% of the older people we work with are over 80. We are asking members of the public to support ALONE by giving a little bit of their time to older people who are alone, by making a donation to support our services or by referring an older person who might use our services.”

ALONE also launched its national phone line at their Christmas launch. The phone line is open Monday-Friday from 9-5 for older people across the country, on 0818 222 024.

“We are encouraging any older person who needs support this winter to reach out and give us a call,” said Moynihan. “There are tens of thousands of older people who are experiencing loneliness, isolation, housing and financial difficulties, and other challenges this winter, and we want them to know that support is available. 1 in 4 people who use ALONE’s services picked up the phone themselves for support.”

ALONE say that there are a number of ways that the public can reach out and spend their time helping an older person this Christmas, for example; dropping in to an older person’s house for a cup of tea and a chat, ensuring they have enough food, medication and heat, bringing them to a social event and giving them a hand with their shopping.

Contact ALONE 0818 222 024 if you have concerns about your own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of a vulnerable older person in the community. For more information visit www.alone.ie  

Disappointment with lack of support for older people in Budget 2020, as older people are denied pension increase

ALONE responds to Budget 2020

Dublin, 8th October 2019   ALONE, the organisation that supports older people to age at home, has expressed its disappointment today that there has not been further support for older people in Budget 2020.

The charity is frustrated that there has not been further support in the areas of pensions and home supports, while welcoming initiatives such as the increase to the Living Alone Allowance.  

Although the Budget addressed issues such as Brexit and climate change, ALONE believe that it did not adequately respond to challenges including those posed by Ireland’s ageing population and the housing crisis.

“The decision to deny older people any increase to their pension is hugely frustrating,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan. “Many people assume that older people have their financial needs met by their state pension. Financial hardship is often a hidden issue among older people, yet it is the third most frequent reason older people contact ALONE. In 2017, more than 63,000 people over 65 were experiencing enforced deprivation. In order to deliver financial security to older people the pension needs to be benchmarked against 35% of average earnings, which would require an increase of at least €7-€9 to the state pension this year and in the coming years.”

For many older people, the State pension does not enable them to cope with costs such as increasing rents in private rental accommodation, transport, achieving and maintaining housing up to basic standards, or keeping ‘rainy day’ funds. In these cases, older people must seek financial assistance from organisations like ALONE.

ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan also expressed concern that the carbon tax, which will be increased by €6 per tonne this year and in the coming years, will impact some of the most vulnerable older people in Irish society. The increase is likely to impact older people who have a low income or live in older and poorly insulated homes, and those in rural areas. While ALONE welcomes the modest increase to the fuel allowance, the charity had hoped to see the fuel allowance period restored to 32 weeks to ensure that older people are supported when they need it.

“While we welcome the increase to the fuel allowance and recognise the need to tackle carbon usage, we are concerned that the carbon tax will impact vulnerable older people who already struggle to pay their heating costs. Some older people ALONE work with already cut essentials to ensure their budgets balance – for example, by waiting until their home gets too cold to manage before putting on the heating, or staying in bed to save on fuel costs,” said Moynihan. “While we welcome the increase in the Fuel Allowance and accompanying measures to help to mitigate the impact of this cost increase, this is a cause for significant concern.”

The organisation also expressed reservations regarding the increase to home support hours. “While we welcome the announcement that prescription charges will be reduced by 50c and that 1 million extra home care hours will be provided as part of the Home Supports Services, these measures do not go far enough. The HSE will provide 17.9 million home support hours to 53,000 people in 2019. An additional 1 million hours will not be sufficient to meet the needs of now more than 7,000 older people and people with disabilities on the waiting list for the Home Supports Service. The Home Supports Service requires a far greater increase in hours and a plan for the coming years to meet the demand,” concluded Moynihan.

However, ALONE welcomed the increase to the Living Alone allowance, which ALONE and other ageing NGOs have been requesting for several years. This is a long-awaited and greatly welcomed increase for older people living alone who are most vulnerable.  They also expressed relief that the Christmas bonus will be maintained in Budget 2020.

ENDS