ALONE call for reform of housing and care supports for older people

ALONE call on the next Government to implement alternative housing options for older people

Dublin, 1 June 2020: ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, has called for reform of housing and care supports provided to older people, saying the COVID-19 outbreak has highlighted the flaws and gaps in the current system.

ALONE has called on Government to commit to providing Housing with Support options which enable older people with medium to high support needs to live in the community, with the additional support they need to live independently, or semi-independently.

62% of all deaths from COVID-19 in Ireland have been residents of care homes.

“ALONE and other organisations have been calling for Housing with Support options to be provided for older people for many years. While nursing homes have a vital role to play in provision of care for older people with high levels of need, they should not be the only option for older people who require additional support to live at home,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan. “We have worked with older people who have prematurely moved to nursing homes because they could not get the support they needed to live independently, and older people who are currently living at home and struggling to stay well, because those supports are not available.”

He continued, “The next Programme for Government must contain a commitment to alternative options, including Housing with Support, for older people. An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and the Minister for Health Simon Harris, as well as numerous other TDs and commentators, have referenced the need for change to the current system in recent weeks. We are asking them and all TDs not to forget this in the continuing negotiations for the Programme for Government. The COVID-19 outbreak has sadly highlighted what so many of us across this sector have known and been calling for, for many years: we need a system of care which provides fully funded home support for older people who want to live at home, as well as options which provide extra support for older people to live in the community.”

In the past few years, ALONE has seen a lack of investment in community services for older people in favour of acute services. The organisation believes that much of the COVID-19 relief funding has gone into hospitals and acute services, with less emphasis put on services for older people within local communities. ALONE has called for increased funding for the Home Support service and other supports which offer older people independence.

In ALONE’s Housing Choices for Older People: Time for Action report published almost two years ago, the organisation called for 45,905 units of shared and supported housing scheme accommodation for older people, including Housing with Supports.1

ALONE has also welcomed the recent establishment of a COVID-19 Nursing Home Expert Panel by Minister for Health Simon Harris.

Since it launched in March, ALONE has received more than 22,272 calls for support. In addition to this, ALONE staff and volunteers have made 86,402 calls to older people who needed support. 76% of the older people who called the ALONE helpline are living alone. Approximately 20% of the older people who have called are now getting longer term support from ALONE.

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. ALONE’s support is designed to complement the clinical advice and information being provided by the HSE through its website and helpline.

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.

Increase in the number older people struggling financially as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

ALONE Call on Government to take action ALONE has seen in an increase in calls from older people with financial concerns as the pandemic continues, and is asking for Government support during and after the pandemic.

Dublin, 25 May 2020: ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, is calling on the incoming Government to implement long term supports for older people who have been impacted financially by COVID-19. The organisation has seen an increase in calls from older people who are experiencing financial difficulties and issues with pensions, housing and security of tenure as the pandemic continues. These financial difficulties cause stress and anxiety, which in turn have a detrimental effect on older people’s mental health.

Since it launched in March, ALONE’s Services for older people has received more than 21,347 calls. In addition to this, ALONE staff and volunteers have made 78,494 calls to older people who needed support. 77% of the older people who called the ALONE helpline in the last week are living alone.

The organisation has received calls from older people who are struggling financially during the pandemic, as they try to manage the hidden costs of cocooning. Many people in the over 66 age group who would have been working up until the start of the pandemic have now found themselves struggling financially, as those over 66 years of age do not qualify for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment and must rely on their contributory State pension of €220 per week. Those who live alone and are reliant solely on the state pension are faced with the additional costs of cocooning, and are struggling with increased utility bills and grocery shopping.

Many people who use ALONE’s services say that their state pension is not enough to cover expenses during this time, and are cutting back on things like food and heating in order to run their cars. For people who live in rural areas of the country, cars are essential. In addition to this, older people living in rented accommodation may feel insecure or worried that they will lose their home as a result of the pandemic.

Although ALONE welcomed the extension made to the fuel allowance, the organisation has found that many older people are struggling financially and have asked Government to consider further interim financial support during this time. The organisation has previously expressed its concern at the lack of reference to the issues faced by older people in recent Government formation documents.

Housing also remains an issue for older people during the pandemic, with ALONE receiving an increased number of calls relating to poor housing conditions. Emergency plumbing, electrical or heating needs forming the basis of many of ALONE’s support plans for older people. As older people spend more time indoors in line with cocooning restrictions, poor living conditions are emphasised, which in turn can have a detrimental effect on an individual’s mental health and wellbeing. Many callers reported feelings of depression and having ‘very low moods’ in the last week.

ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan stated, “We ask that the Government recognise the additional expenses incurred for older people as a result of cocooning and self-isolating, and respond accordingly by implementing additional supports for older people and other vulnerable groups. We are asking the incoming Government to put in immediate supports and also commitment to the pension at 35% of average weekly earnings for older people to help them through this uncertain period and into the

future. Older people are one of the groups most affected by this pandemic, so it is vital that we show them compassion and support now and into the future. As we have noticed, inequality has played a role in the course of the pandemic, with those who are most marginalised among the most affected, and it is time that this changes.”

He continued, “We are urging anyone who is experiencing any kind of financial difficulties or housing difficulties at this time to get in touch with us immediately. These are strange and uncertain times for all of us, but ALONE is here to support those who need it, whenever they need help. If you are struggling with anything, please call our support line and we will do whatever we can to help you.”

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. Our support are designed to complement the clinical advice and information being provided by the HSE through its website and helpline..

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 calls on Government to implement long term supports for older people as members of the public begin to return to work

ALONE has now received more than 20,000 calls to national helpline but says that we have still not seen the full impact of cocooning on older people

Dublin, 19 May 2020:   ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, is asking the Government to ensure that long term supports are in place for older people impacted by COVID-19, as Ireland moves into the next phase of the pandemic. As members of the public and supporters begin to return to work, the organisation has called for current levels of support for older people to be maintained and increased, highlighting that we have yet to see the full impact cocooning has had on older people who are medically and socially vulnerable. ALONE has also stated that inequality has played a role in the course of the pandemic, with those who are most marginalised among the most affected.

ALONE is concerned that the lifting of restrictions may create a new set of challenges for older people who are struggling during the pandemic, and are encouraging older people to seek help if needed. ALONE has noted that there may be a reduction in some of the supports that have been available to older people so far, as family members, neighbours and communities return to work and resume their original roles, with those who are more marginalised among the most at risk.

ALONE has highlighted that physical and mental health difficulties are causing increased challenges for older people, with many calling ALONE’s helpline to say they have fallen or are experiencing illness or pain, but do not want to go to GP surgeries or A&E due to anxiety around contracting COVID-19. Lack of access to chiropody and other services are having a direct impact on people’s ability to leave their home for exercise safely, and many callers indicate deconditioning and point to increasing frailty as a result of cocooning. ALONE have also noted a continuing increase in the number of older people expressing very low mood due to cocooning.

Older people who are among marginalised groups are among those who are most negatively impacted, as poor living conditions are emphasised by the amount of time spent at home. Increased grocery and heating costs are also impacting on the financial security of older people, particularly those who are reliant on the state pension.

Since it launched in March, ALONE’s national helpline for older people has received more than 20,000calls. In addition to this, ALONE staff and volunteers have made 70,729 calls to older people who needed support. 72% of the older people who called the ALONE helpline in the last week are living alone.

“We are only now starting the see the true impact that cocooning is having on older people,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan. “While previously older people were expressing boredom, anxiety and concern, now we are seeing a level of mental and physical health difficulty which is extremely worrying. We are concerned that as people begin to return to work, older people who generally rely on day care services and other supports will not have the support they need.”

ALONE has been working alongside the Irish Gerontological Society to ensure that long term supports and services are in place for older people who need them.  Both organisations have asked that the next Government prioritise the needs of older people by focusing efforts on the delivery of the Sláintecare strategy, the statutory home support scheme and the implementation of the National Positive Ageing Strategy.  They also suggest that the new government appoint a Minister for Older People, with a cross-departmental reach and brief.    

Diarmuid O’Shea, President of the Irish Gerontological Society stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted again that the health and support needs of older people have gone unmet for many years. We need to provide a broader range of acute, psychosocial and community supports.  Our new Government needs to prioritise this as part of the Programme for Government. This is not just a time to observe, pause and reflect.  It is a time for action.  We previously asked the new government to appoint a Minister for Older People, with a cross departmental reach.   The conversation about what we have learnt, and how we can improve and transform the care that older people receive in our communities, must start now.”

Seán Moynihan, ALONE CEO stated, “We are asking that the new Government prioritise the needs of older people in order to mitigate the impact that the pandemic has had on older members of our society. Recent Government formation documents have contained minimal reference to the issues faced by older people, which is something that urgently needs to change. Older people have been profoundly affected as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19 and must be adequately supported to deal with its aftermath.”

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.

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 and Irish Gerontological Society call on Government to take action and provide long term change for older people

Both organisations are seeking long term solutions for the physical and mental wellbeing of our older people from the next Government

Dublin, 17 May 2020:   ALONE and the Irish Gerontological Society are calling on the incoming Government to take action to provide long term support services for older people, both during and after the Coronavirus crisis.

The organisations have stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted healthcare and support gaps experienced by older people which must be urgently addressed. Both organisations are calling on the incoming Government to implement long term changes for older people, including acute and psychosocial supports, to support older people with both physical and mental health.

ALONE and the Irish Gerontological Society are seeking to initiate a national conversation around the issues faced by older people during the pandemic, including healthcare and home care supports and new housing models for older people, a shift from the nursing home model and the introduction of technological supports which would enable older people to age at home comfortably. Both organisations have also stated that long term supports for older people must be available in their local communities. We also need clinical programs that are supported to work and reach out into the community.

Both organisations have asked that the next Government prioritise the needs of older people by focusing efforts on the delivery of the Sláintecare strategy, the statutory home support scheme and the implementation of the National Positive Ageing Strategy.  They also suggest that the new government appoint a Minister for Older People, with a cross-departmental reach and brief.    

Diarmuid O’Shea, President of the Irish Gerontological Society stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted again that the health and support needs of older people have gone unmet for many years. We need to provide a broader range of acute, psychosocial and community supports.  Our new Government needs to prioritise this as part of the Programme for Government. This is not just a time to observe, pause and reflect.  It is a time for action.  We previously asked the new government to appoint a Minister for Older People, with a cross departmental reach.   The conversation about what we have learnt, and how we can improve and transform the care that older people receive in our communities, must start now.”

Seán Moynihan, ALONE CEO stated, “We are aware that the issues raised by this pandemic will have a long lasting impact on the physical and mental health and wellbeing of older people across the country, which will continue long after restrictions have been lifted. We are asking that the new Government prioritise the needs of older people in order to mitigate the impact that the pandemic has had on older members of our society. Recent Government formation documents have contained minimal reference to the issues faced by older people, which is something that urgently needs to change. Older people have been profoundly affected as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19 and must be adequately supported to deal with its aftermath.”

ALONE and the IGS continue to work together to ensure long term supports and services are in place for older people. The IGS Annual & Scientific Meeting has been postponed but it is hoped that a digital programme will take place later in the year, and will include the annual keynote Willie Bermingham lecture sponsored by ALONE.

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.

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 warns that cocooning will have a long term impact on the physical health and wellbeing of older people

Call for Government to focus efforts on long term solutions for older people

Dublin, 11 May 2020:   ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, has cautioned that current COVID-19 cocooning measures will have long term effects on the physical health and wellbeing of older people across the country. The organisation is concerned that current cocooning measures are causing a ‘health gap’ among older people which will have a negative impact on their physical health in the coming weeks and months.  The organisation has previously voiced concerns on the impact of cocooning on older people’s mental health, and is now highlighting the long term impacts to physical health as restrictive measures continue.

ALONE has hugely expanded their services since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ireland to meet the needs of older people nationwide, and is running a national helpline for older people in collaboration with the Department of Health, the HSE, and Local Authorities. Since it launched in March, ALONE’s national helpline for older people has received over 18,784 calls. In addition to this, ALONE staff and volunteers have made 63,106 calls to older people who needed support. 73% of the older people who called the ALONE helpline in the last week are living alone.

This week ALONE noted an increase in calls regarding non-COVID related hospital visits, such as injuries related to falls. While it has now been advised that older people can go outside to exercise, ALONE is urging them to be careful, as long periods of physical inactivity while cocooning may result in deconditioning and loss of muscle mass, resulting in an increased fall risk among older people. Each year, one in every three adults age 65 and older falls, mostly at home, and falls are the leading cause of injury, disability and admission to nursing homes for this group.

The organisation has also noted with concern that some older people are unsure about whether to seek needed medical attention for fear of contracting COVID-19 at a GP appointment or in hospital.

ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan stated, “While we welcomed the news last week that cocooning measures would be relaxed slightly and that older people would be able to leave their homes to exercise, we are encouraging older people to take extra care when out walking to reduce the risk of a trip or a fall. Last week we saw an increase in the number of calls from people telling us they have fallen recently, or are afraid to go outside their homes for fear of falling. We are concerned that a number of older people were ringing for advice on whether they should either call an ambulance or their GP after they had fallen as they were concerned about going to hospital/GP due to COVID-19,” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan.

ALONE has voiced its concern that older people may be missing medical appointments due to fears surrounding the virus, with many older people apprehensive to visit GPs and hospitals in case they come into contact with the virus. There are concerns that without checkups, existing health issues could worsen and cause long term damage to older people’s health. The organisation is encouraging older people to talk to their GP for advice on whether they should attend appointments, and to contact their GP or a hospital if they are experiencing any health difficulties.

“We are very conscious of the adverse effects that prolonged cocooning measures are having on older people, and we are urging any older person with existing medical issues to attend checkups and appointments if they have been advised to do so by their GP,” he continued. “We have received many calls from older people with underlying health conditions who don’t want to visit their GP or hospital because they are worried that they will contract the virus. We are urging people to keep existing appointments with medical professionals to prevent their conditions from worsening. As we know, COVID-19 poses increased risks for older people who contract it, but we must also ensure that older people with other health conditions continue to receive medical advice and support.”

Last week it was announced that older people are advised they can go outside to take exercise to maintain their physical and mental health, with Dublin City Council parks allocating a period from 1:30 – 3:30 daily for older people to visit their local park. ALONE is reminding the general public to respect older people and to avoid using parks during these times.

Moynihan continued, “We have also received an increased number of calls from older people who are afraid to visit their local park as they are anxious that it will be too busy and they could come into contact with someone carrying the virus. We ask that members of the public respect these older people and to refrain from visiting parks during these specified times.”

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.

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 calls for Government action to focus on long-term issues impacting older people amid COVID-19 outbreak

The organisation is calling for Government to focus efforts on long term solutions for older people, and a stronger presence from the Minister for Mental Health and Older People, as Ireland enters next phase of the pandemic

Dublin, 4 May 2020:   ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, has urged Government and politicians to focus anew on the long term issues impacting older people during the COVID-19 pandemic as the country enters the next phase of combatting the virus. The organisation is calling for action on the long-term issues impacting older people which COVID-19 has further brought to light, such as mental health and wellbeing, support to age at home, and nursing home support.

ALONE believes that as well as tackling the immediate issues posed by COVID-19, the Government must take into consideration the long-term detrimental effect that cocooning is having on the physical and mental health of older people. Last week the organisation released concerning figures relating to older people’s mental health as a result of the pandemic, with increases in calls from older people expressing suicidal ideation. ALONE has noted that the long-term physical health and wellbeing of older people is also being affected, with cocooning measures preventing older people living in the community from staying active, accessing home support and attending medical appointments. 

The organisation has called for long-term strategies to respond to these challenges and called attention to the lack of commitment to the needs of older people in the policy framework released by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, and the Green Party’s response. ALONE believe that any Government formation document must include commitments to the right to home care, Sláintecare and the National Positive Ageing Strategy.

ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan stated “The issues raised by COVID-19 will have a long term impact on the health and wellbeing of older people in Ireland and these will not go away once the restrictions have ended. With this new phase, we need to ensure that the Minister for Mental Health and Older People has a strong voice in designing and influencing policy. The lack of reference to older people in recent Government formation documents is a cause of huge concern for us. Older people have struggled the most with the outbreak of COVID-19 and it should follow that they are supported to deal with it in its aftermath.”

ALONE has hugely expanded their services since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ireland to meet the needs of older people nationwide, and is running a national helpline for older people in collaboration with the Department of Health, the HSE, and Local Authorities. Since it launched in March, ALONE’s national helpline for older people has received over 17,600 calls. In addition to this, ALONE staff and volunteers have made 55,088 calls to older people who needed support. More than 76% of the older people who called the ALONE helpline in the last week are living alone.

Moynihan continued, “The majority of older people have been adhering to cocooning advice for the past four weeks, and this has proven incredibly challenging. We welcome updated Government guidelines which advise that older people go outside within 5km of their home for exercise and we expect this will make a big difference for many, particularly the increasing numbers of older people who have struggled with their mental wellbeing in recent weeks.

“However, we all must recognise the sacrifices that older people have made and continue to make throughout this crisis. We need to see commitments to support older people long-term as well as in the immediate future. A national strategy to combat loneliness, the delivery of Housing with Support to enable older people to live in their communities for longer, and the implementation and funding of a statutory home care scheme are just some of the actions we need to discuss now, and which need to be part of the next Programme for Government.”

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.

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 receives increased number of calls from older people regarding mental health difficulties stemming from cocooning

The organisation are concerned about the impact that cocooning has had on older people’s mental wellbeing, and have renewed their calls for a national strategy to combat loneliness

Dublin, 27 April 2020: ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, has voiced its concern regarding the impact of cocooning measures on older people’s mental health. In the past ten days, 62% of practical support requests made to ALONE’s national COVID-19 helpline were in relation to social isolation and loneliness. The organisation has renewed their calls for a national strategy on loneliness in order to tackle the issue on a long-term basis, both during the pandemic and after it has subsided.

As the weeks go by, ALONE has noted that older people using their helpline are becoming increasingly distressed by the impact of cocooning. ALONE has also seen a huge increase in the number of calls they are receiving in relation to suicidal ideation, increasing from 2-3 calls per week, to 3-4 calls per day. Many callers will already be in touch with mental health services or where this is not the case, ALONE will link them in.

ALONE has hugely expanded their services since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ireland to meet the needs of older people nationwide, and is running a national helpline for older people in collaboration with the Department of Health, the HSE, and Local Authorities. Since it launched in March, ALONE’s national helpline for older people has received over 16,000 calls. In addition to this, ALONE staff and volunteers have made 46,808 calls to older people who needed support. More than 70% of the older people who called the ALONE helpline in the last week are living alone.

ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan stated “We are encouraging any older person who is struggling with their mental wellbeing at this time to get in touch with us and other support services. For many, these difficulties are directly linked to the impact of COVID-19 and cocooning. Loneliness is a common issue, and long term we need a strategy to combat loneliness across all age groups. Support is available to help to manage and overcome these difficulties.”

“We welcome Minister Harris’s announcement of an additional €1.1 million investment into online mental health supports, which will help organisations to further assist older people who are struggling with their mental health during these unprecedented times.”

The organisation has recently teamed up with Gavin James and Bonfire Dublin to release a video campaign featuring Gavin James’s song ‘Nervous’. The ‘Now more than ever’ campaign consists of a series of short videos focusing on loneliness, which call on members of the public to stay in touch with the older people they know who may be feeling lonely whilst cocooning. All six videos are available to watch here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL0jBRen_DcfwHqdYw6RkpRCeVtI1IwUrG

Moynihan continued, “We know that loneliness can have significant health impacts on our mental health, so 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. For some of the older people that we are currently working with, loneliness is a new and temporary issue which will pass. Unfortunately, for others, it is an ongoing situation. ALONE are determined to ensure that every older person receives the supports they need to live their best life. If someone calls or is referred to ALONE, we can arrange to contact the individual as often as is needed, and this service will continue after the current crisis. Our volunteers are continuing to provide telephone support to those who need it, and are making regular phone calls for reassurance and social support.”

Research by The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA)1 last year showed that loneliness has a negative impact on mental and physical health, and that loneliness is most prevalent among over-75s and those living alone. The study also showed that one-third of those aged 50 and older felt lonely at least some of the time.

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.

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.i

ALONE, Gavin James and Bonfire team up for the launch of the charity’s ‘Now more than ever’ video campaign

ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, have teamed up with Gavin James and Bonfire Dublin to release their ‘Now more than ever’ campaign, a series of short videos on loneliness featuring Gavin James’s music, which call on members of the public to stay in touch with the older people they know who may be feeling lonely whilst cocooning. All six videos are available to watch here.

Over the past few weeks, Gavin has reached his fundraising target and raised an astonishing €200,000 to support ALONE to continue their work with older people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The team at ALONE are hugely grateful to Gavin James for his support, and to all members of the public who have donated.

ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan stated “Our call now to people of all ages is to stay in touch with your older family members and neighbours. In recent days and weeks we have received increasing numbers of calls from older people experiencing loneliness and isolation. Many have now been cocooning for more than a month and this has proven to be a huge challenge in terms of mental health and wellbeing. Now more than ever, the older people we know need our support. We are delighted to be working with Bonfire to produce this video campaign, which we hope will encourage people to get in touch with older people in their lives in a safe way.”

The videos, which feature music from Gavin James’ track ‘Nervous’, remind people of all ages that while older people need support at this time, staying in touch is vital for all our wellbeing.

Moynihan continued, “We have called for a national strategy on loneliness in order to address this on a long-term basis. Loneliness is a serious issue among older people which has been exacerbated by the current situation. However, people of all ages are finding this period hugely challenging in terms of staying connected and staying in touch. We’re reminding everyone that you might need that call as much as your older relative.”

“We are so grateful to Gavin for his continued support and for raising an amazing €200,000 to help us to continue our work with older people in need amid the COVID-19 crisis. A huge thank you to everyone who has donated so far. Your support and donations help us to make a real difference to older people who are struggling during this time.”

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, the HSE and Local Authorities, is available to all older people who need support relating to COVID-19 and issues relating to physical and mental health, loneliness, isolation, finances, housing and other challenges.

Statement to Government from The Alliance of Age Sector NGOs

The Alliance of Age Sector NGOs wish to acknowledge the care being given to our nursing home residents during the Covid-19 pandemic, and to call for equal access to appropriate treatment options for all older people guided by the principles within the Ethical Framework for Decision-Making in a Pandemic (Department of Health 2020).

Age alone should never be a barrier to realising one’s right to health.  In its position adopted on 3rd April 2020, Alzheimer Europe considers it unacceptable to systematically restrict access to ventilators during the COVID-19 pandemic to people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, or people living in nursing homes.

The principle of fairness ensures that equity and appropriate clinical responses are of the highest standards and will apply to people of all ages including our older citizens during this crisis (Ethical Framework for Decision-Making in a Pandemic (Department of Health 2020)).

This is crucial given that the World Health Organisation has identified long term residential care setting residents as being particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, and over 65s have accounted for 90% of COVID-19 deaths recorded in Ireland to date.

We would like to make the following points to Government:

  1. Nursing home staff are experts in providing end-of-life-care and have always supported residents to live and die well.  Such staff are competent, compassionate and caring professionals, and we call for all necessary resources to be available to support them during this crisis. This includes adequate staffing, personal protective equipment, (PPE) and all other resources necessary to give the care that staff consider necessary to deliver quality care to vulnerable people at this time. 
  2. It is important to uphold the  principles of advanced care and end of life planning which place the wishes and preferences of each resident at the centre of the care and treatment provided. E.g. A resident wishing to be transferred to an acute hospital for further treatment should be facilitated in this.  Equally, ‘Do Not Attempt Resuscitation’ (DNAR) or ‘Do not Transfer’ should not be applied to entire care settings
  3. Each person who does test positive and requires treatment should be assessed individually and appropriate treatment options provided, based on their wishes and in line with clinically appropriate medical interventions. 
  4. It is most distressing to read the reports of older people in hospitals and nursing homes dying without family members present because of Covid-19.  We thank our hospital and nursing home staff who do their best to offer care and comfort to these patients, and we remain open to exploring any innovative and creative ideas that could provide some solutions to such separation at this time.

As an inclusive society, it is incumbent on us to ensure that the rights of our older people are protected, and we are calling on Government to review this as a matter of urgency.

The Alliance of Age Sector NGOs

Signed by:

Maureen Kavanagh, CEO of Active Retirement Ireland

Patrick Connolly, CEO of Age Action

Karen Horgan, CEO of Age & Opportunity

Sean Moynihan, CEO of ALONE

Pat McLoughlin, CEO of The Alzheimer Society of Ireland

Mairead Hayes, CEO of Senior Citizens Parliament

Aine Brady, CEO of Third Age

Sharon Foley, CEO of The Irish Hospice Foundation

ALONE welcomes support from Horizon Therapeutics to deliver support to older people

The organisation is grateful for the donation, which will enable it to continue its efforts in assisting older people through the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future.

Dublin, 3rd April 2020: ALONE, the organisation that supports older people, has welcomed support from Horizon Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company with its global headquarters in Dublin. The company is providing financial support to community organizations who are providing critical services, with ALONE receiving €150,000 to support their work with older people.

This fund will allow ALONE to continue providing valuable assistance to older people who are cocooning, including their national phoneline for older people, and will enable them to continue to provide support for older people into the future. The ALONE helpline offers advice and support for COVID-19 and other issues that are coming up for older people at this time, including difficulties in relation to physical and mental health, loneliness, isolation, finance, safety, and housing. ALONE are currently receiving more than 1,000 phone calls a day to the helpline.

“We owe it to the communities where we live and work to provide assistance during times of crisis,” said Tim Walbert, chairman, president and chief executive officer, Horizon. “We are committed to supporting ALONE with the fantastic service they are providing the older and more vulnerable people in our society during this unprecedented time and hope that other companies in Ireland will join us in providing support to these efforts. “

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said, “We are so grateful to Horizon for their assistance in what is an extremely difficult period for many older people in Ireland, with many facing increasingly challenging circumstances due to COVID-19 restrictions. Thanks to Horizon’s donation, we will be able to continue our work with older people during these unsettling times and into the future.”

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.

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.