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

ALONE cautions members of the public to stay mindful of older people

The organisation have received calls to their National Support Line reflective of increased anxiety as schools resume this week

Dublin, 3 September 2020:    ALONE, the organisation which supports older people is calling on members of the public to be vigilant of older people who may be feeling particularly vulnerable as children go back to school this week, as we are seeing more activity and movement from families. The organisation welcomes continued updates on the current guidelines for older people from Government, while encouraging a more long-term plan to be identified and mapped out for future expectations.

ALONE have received a number of calls from older people who are anxious that the return of children to schools this week will lead to another spike in cases, as outbreaks have developed in other parts of the world following the reopening of schools. Many older people are also feeling unsure of where they stand in terms of the current Government safety guidelines, and feel that they have not been included in the gradual reopening of society. ALONE has stated that it is important for people to remember that while many aspects of our daily lives are returning to normal, older people still remain one of the most restricted and at risk groups of the pandemic.

Many callers to the National Support Line believe that the ask to cocoon was introduced with clear and explicit guidelines on how to stay safe. Now, they are looking for long-term plans based on the current and future guidelines as callers need to interpret the guidelines based on their personal circumstances. ALONE are encouraging a plan for the future to be devised by issuing clear and concise messages to older people which will deter from the increased anxiety being felt. The organisation are taking a vast number of calls regularly where they assist older people by internalise the guidelines and therefore managing the risks in each of their individual and personal circumstances.

As schools reopen, the organisation wants the public to understand the increased risk to older people. ALONE seek for clear messages to continue while working in solidarity with public health messaging. Older people have already been through a lot, with ALONE reporting rising numbers of older people experiencing loneliness, fear and anxiety. They believe it is only by working together to provide supports in the community that we can deliver the support older people require.

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said, “In order to best advise and support older people and those who have been cocooning, we are asking for the consistent and clear guidelines for older people to continue as society gradually returns to normal. Many older people who have called our support line are afraid to leave their homes in case they come into contact with a carrier of the virus. We seek to support all older people with advise based on their individual circumstances. We are asking for continued clarity from Government on guidelines for older people so that we can all move to the next stage of reopening together.”

He continued, “We are asking members of the public to respect older people during this difficult time, as they are one of the groups who have been affected the most by the arrival of COVID-19 in Ireland back in March. While it’s fantastic to be able to support our relatives and neighbours who older people, but we must be careful now that our children are going back to school that we teach them to respect older people’s space when out and about. Even though most people are now going back to their normal lives, certain groups of individuals such as older people are still very worried about the virus and what will happen to them if they are exposed to a carrier of the virus.”

ALONE have also reminded older people that their services continue to be available to any older person who needs advice or support during this time.

“I would like to remind any older person that is struggling at the moment that even though restrictions are being eased, supports are still available to them through ALONE and Local Authorities across the country. If you are struggling at all over the coming weeks and months, please do not hesitate to reach out and seek help.” said ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan.

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 and ALONE announce this year’s Willie Bermingham Lecture “Changing Horizons in Gerontology – United in Solidarity with Older People”

Key speaker virtually attending the lecture will be Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director, World Health Organisation’s Health Emergencies Programme

Dublin 27 August 2020  The Irish Gerontological Society and  ALONE are delighted to present an online lecture themed:  “Changing Horizons in Gerontology – United in Solidarity with Older People”.

The IGS ALONE Willie Bermingham Lecture is the keynote address at the Annual & Scientific Meeting of the Irish Gerontological Society. This year, for the first time, the lecture will be presented as an online event on Thursday 1st October from 2pm.

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

An opening address by Dr. Diarmuid O’Shea, President of the Irish Gerontological Society and consultant physician in geriatric medicine at St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin, will set the scene. He will introduce invited panellists to participate and provide their insights towards the theme of this year’s lecture – ‘United in Solidarity with Older People’.

Dr. O’Shea: “The ability to have Dr Ryan speak directly to our members will be a moral boost and catalyst for professionals who have been at the core of COVID care, in the community, hospitals and nursing homes. In recognition of the wonderful work he has done around the world in shaping the response to managing the pandemic we look forward to 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 people as they age in Ireland.   We must remember that age really is just a number.  Older people comprise a growing and heterogeneous group ranging from the very fit to frail, and a one size solution does not fit all.  The focus on improvements must be cross sectoral.”

“People providing care to those with complex needs must have access to the right training, education, equipment, advice and support.  From our government and Minister of Health, we must now see concrete support and funding. Actions speak louder than words.  As one example we will hear from Dr Mike Ryan, who in the past has spoken of how important it is to adapt, change, measure and implement.  These actions are at the core of improving any service, and must be central tenets in our collective drive to improve care and supports for us all as we age.    We look forward with great interest to hear from him on this and more during the IGS Willie Bermingham lecture on Thursday Oct 1st at 2pm.”

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, will introduce ALONE and present its vision. “ALONE are delighted to be able to work alongside the Irish Gerontological Society to present this lecture at a critical time for older people.”

He continued, “ALONE continue to provide services and advocate for older people across Ireland, responding with immediacy to newly emerging concerns while also encouraging support to existing issues that are being heightened due to the current pandemic. The theme of the annual Irish Gerontological Society lecture is an essential conversation we’ve been campaigning for with the IGS and in unity with older people for years and years. We are delighted to present our thinking and to learn and align from all that are united in ensuring that Ireland adapts to meet the needs of an ageing population.”

ALONE appeal for a reform to the State Pension system in the upcoming budget

The organisation believes that urgent action is required to reform Ireland’s current pension system, to protect the retirement security of current and future pensioners

Dublin, 26 August 2020:    ALONE, the organisation which supports older people is calling on Government to reassess its approach to pensions and to reform the current system to protect future generations, as well as those currently in receipt of pensions.

With financial issues being one of the biggest concerns raised by the older people who use ALONE’s services, we see daily reporting in the lack of quality in their day-to-day lives due to inadequate funds. They are calling on the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to increase the state pension by €7 in Budget 2021, to ensure that older people are protected during difficult economic times, like now. 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)

ALONE have also noted the fact that older people who were working up until the arrival of COVID-19 in Ireland are not entitled to receive the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. This is a concern which has been raised in calls made to the National Support Line. ALONE are mindful of this issue and recognise the unjust and discriminative act of excluding a specific cohort of people simply because of their age. They are working to raise awareness of this with Government in order to try and reach a solution for individuals in this situation

Tom* is 72 years old and is a self-employed entertainer in nursing homes. He contacted ALONE’s Support Line to highlight the fact that the COVID-19 unemployment payments were very discriminative towards older people. Many older people supplement their Old Age Pension by continuing to work, and are not entitled to any supplemental income as the rest of the country due to current crisis. Tom wrote a letter to his local TD who responded stating that he should be happy with his extra bags of fuel, especially because he doesn’t pay PRSI. Tom started work at 15 years of age and has paid PRSI all his life, until he became self-employed in later years, when he started paying his ROS tax annually and on time.  ALONE encouraged Tom to contact his Social Welfare department and Citizen’s Information to see if they know of any additional benefits he may be able to claim at the moment, as he’s down about €800 a month and has commitments he is obliged to maintain.

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. ALONE is also urging the government to implement a universal pensions model, as set out by Social Justice Ireland. A universal pension is a flat-rate entitlement paid to all residents over a certain defined and qualifying age, regardless of their previous social insurance contributions.

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said, “ALONE have been receiving calls to the National Support Line from older people regarding the fact that older people who were working were not entitled to the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment. We are aware of this issue and we offer our support to those who find themselves in this difficult situation. We hope that by raising this issue with Government, a solution will be reached to try and rectify this.”

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 ever growing population, which is causing an increase in those over the age of 65.  We believe that that structure, continuity and ongoing commitment is needed from Government to address the long-term issue of pension reform.”

Since March, ALONE’s Support Line has received in excess of 30,973 calls for support. ALONE staff and volunteers have made more than 166,656 calls to older people who needed support, and provided more than 25,318 units of practical support, including collecting groceries and prescriptions. ALONE is providing ongoing support to more than 14,522 older people who require support for difficulties with loneliness, health, finance, housing, accessing services, COVID-19 and other challenges.

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 responds to Nursing Home Report released today with a series of recommendations

The organisation would also like to see a refresh of current guidelines to safeguard older people amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

Dublin, 19 August 2020:    ALONE, the organisation which supports older people has responded to the Nursing Home Report released today, stating that more needs to be done to protect vulnerable older people in residential care from coming into contact with COVID-19. ALONE have put forward a series of recommendations to safeguard older people and ensure that their needs are met in the event of a second wave of COVID-19.

In a press briefing earlier today, the COVID-19 Nursing Homes Expert Panel outlined recommendations that should be implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes, including changes to admission policies that will see nursing homes required to prove the efficacy of their infection control standards before admitting new patients. The Panel also stated that protective measures should be put in place, such as the prioritisation of the influenza vaccine for all residents and staff and the requirement to have personal protective equipment readily available in nursing homes across the country, with a supervisor on hand to ensure it is appropriately used.

Although ALONE have broadly welcomed the recommendations outlined by the Nursing Homes Expert Panel, the organisation would like to see immediate action on these measures to safeguard the thousands of vulnerable older people currently living in nursing homes across the country. The organisation believes that a move towards a statutory right to home care is needed, as this would allow older people the opportunity and choice to age at home, which would in turn ease the pressure on acute medical services. ALONE has also emphasised the need to integrate health and social care services going forward to improve the current health system.

While nursing homes provide valuable support to older people with complex needs, supports must be tailored to the requirements of the individual. In many cases, older people have been prematurely moved to nursing homes because they could not avail of the supports needed to live on their own. ALONE are calling for increased funding for service-user led home support services which would enable greater numbers of older people to live at home independently.

This week ALONE has seen a spike in calls to the National Support Line from older people seeking advice on COVID-19, which the organisation believe stems directly from the surge of cases. As many older and vulnerable people are encouraged stay indoors where possible and limit their contact with others to protect themselves from the virus, ALONE want to ensure that they feel safe and protected, and believe that a renewed set of guidelines would lift the anxieties of those most at risk.

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said, “The arrival of COVID-19 in Ireland highlighted the need for urgent reassessment of the nursing home sector to safeguard vulnerable older people. The sector is disjointed, and a clear governance structure is urgently needed to bring nursing homes in line with overall healthcare in Ireland. With the right supports made available to them, many older people would be able to age at home. We believe that more needs to be done to ensure that older people receive tailored and personalised supports so that they can continue to thrive independently in their own homes.”

He continued, “This is an uncertain time for all of us. We know there is a lot of anxiety among vulnerable groups such as older people, especially given the recent increases in cases of COVID-19. Older people were hit the hardest by this pandemic, although certain measures were necessary to protect them from the virus, long periods of cocooning had a negative effect on both their mental and physical health. ALONE is doing everything possible to keep morale high among the older people we work with, promoting mental and physical wellbeing, helping older people to stay engaged and reminding them to reach out for anything they may need.”

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.

Government issue refreshed advisory to over 70s

The organisation has responded to advice issued today by the National Public Health Emergency Team in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Dublin, 19 August 2020:    ALONE, the organisation which supports older people has responded to advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team which encourages older people to narrow their interactions to a small network of people while also asking people to keep gatherings in their homes small. ALONE appreciate that these measures seek to protect older people from contracting COVID-19 and had been worried that a total reintroduction of cocooning measures would have a negative effect on the mental and physical wellbeing of older people in the coming weeks.

Older people are being advised to restrict their movements, limit the time they spend outdoors, limit their network of contacts to six people from outside the home and go shopping at designated times to prevent the transmission of the virus up until September 13th. This latest advisory is a result of an increase in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the past two weeks, which is having a knock-on effect on numbers being treated for the virus in hospitals.

People aged over 70 are asked to implement these precautions at their own discretion for their own safety and to limit their interactions to a small network for short periods. The organisation is also concerned about the impact of COVID-19 as the weather begins to get colder, and has called on the Government and NPHET to start putting plans in place for the winter months. We must implement the learning from the last few months and ensure that homecare and other services to support older people are not only maintained but increased to meet demand.

ALONE has spoken to many people who use our services who feel that they had been managing their own risks and following public health guidelines and rules, and that they should be able to choose and manage risks and their health like any other adult. ALONE believe that everyone should treated equally and this is only possible if we all follow the guidelines

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, stated: “Of course, we want to protect our older people from COVID-19. We feel the way to do this is to main social solidarity where we all follow the public health advice and collectively protect those at risk regardless of age.”

He continued, “Fresh air, movement, social connection and access to medical services are essential for older people now in the winter months ahead. Ultimately, we stand alongside those who use our services, and we are extremely disappointed that older people may face harsh restrictions once again due to the negligence and disregard of other people across the country.”

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.