One Year On: ALONE reflects on the year milestone since first COVID-19 restrictions were put in place

ALONE’s National Support Line: a gateway to their integrated system of services

Dublin, 10th March 2021   ALONE, the organisation which supports older people is reflecting on a year supporting an increasing number of older people in need amid ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. One year ago, ALONE’s National Support line became the gateway to their multi-disciplinary supportive services and allowed them to reach a growing cohort of older people in need of support. Their National Support Line quickly became the leading national number for ‘Community Call’, an initiative that links local and national Government with the community and voluntary sectors to provide support to older people and those who are at risk at this time.

As a member organisation of the National Public Health Emergency COVID-19 Subgroup for Vulnerable People, ALONE has worked in collaboration with the Department of Health and the HSE to provide a coordinated national response to support older people who have concerns, may be at risk or who have contracted COVID-19. ALONE’s Strategic Plan outlines the projections of an ageing population and the supports needed in order to cater for a growing age group. Having established clear goals from the outset pre-pandemic, this was key to how ALONE were able to mobilising a rapid response in every county to make sure nobody got left behind.

Today marks one year since the implications and destructive nature of COVID-19 came into play for ALONE. Since March 9th 2020 and around 365 days later, ALONE’s National Support Line has received in excess of 43,429 calls for support. ALONE coordinated the National Support Line to be in operation from 8am – 8pm, seven days a week, ultimately increasing their capabilities as an organisation, to provide support on greater scale. Subsequent to this, ALONE staff and volunteers have placed more than 110,141 calls to older people who have been linked in with their services. The organisation has increased its weekly volume of older people seeking ongoing support as they now assist up to 2,426 older people weekly with challenges spanning across loneliness, health, finance, housing, accessing services, COVID-19 and other issues.

While 75% of callers to ALONE live ALONE, 31% of these callers between 75-90 years of age. ALONE staff have put 9,228support plans in place for those who have called with an issue so that we develop a solution to the problem. ALONE’s support plans can provide a point of contact for access to health, social care, housing, transport and other arising needs using technology and other services and activities to improve physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. Their Support Coordination services have been transformed through collaborative relationships with the Local Authorities, the Gardaí, the GAA, partners in the Statutory, Community and Voluntary Sectors. ALONE have continuously evolved their relationships with partner organisations stating, without them, they would not have been able to achieve what they have.

The organisation has seen a huge increase to the number of volunteers since the onset of the pandemic, with the total figure currently over 2,645. ALONE has trained 589volunteers to work with older people over the past year, with the first ever online volunteer training taking place on April 10th, 2020. ALONE has also implemented technology to help older people through the pandemic, installing various devices for older people across the country in order to keep them connected and help them through the pandemic. ALONE supplied and installed 356 Assistive Technology devices in 2020 and worked on a partner collaboration resulting in the delivery of 1,068 phones to older people across the Country.  

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said, “ALONE volunteers and staff have been working alongside older people for over forty years now. We grow in strength each and every year with the important relationships we build and services that we develop. For over a year now, our lives have been put on hold as a result of COVID-19, with older people among the worst affected by the impact of the pandemic on their lives. The support we have received from our partner organisations, ambassadors, community groups and individuals since the arrival of COVID-19 in Ireland has been nothing short of extraordinary.”

He continued, “Our National Support Line has been a lifeline for older people across the country during dark times over the past year and we will continue this work until the threat of the pandemic has passed and beyond. Our National Support Line will continue to be the gateway to accessing our services and we endeavour to keep providing and expanding these services to accommodate for those who require them. We have accomplished so much over the last year but we are still working with older people who are struggling every day to provide assistance, support and reassurance. We must continue to protect our ageing population following the sacrifices that they have made in the past year and provide the necessary supports for older people both now and when things begin to return to normality.”

Contact ALONE if you have concerns about your own wellbeing, or the wellbeing of an older person you know. Their National Support Line is available seven days a week from 8am – 8pm on 0818 222 024. Further information can be found on www.alone.ie.