A charity which supports elderly people has extended the opening hours of its Covid-19 support line for older people after receiving an increase in calls.
Since launching the line last Monday (March 9), ALONE has had so many phone calls from older people looking for support throughout the week they have added extra staff to answer the lines and 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.
ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan called on the community to support each other.
“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,” he said.
“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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
For all updates and further information on COVID-19, please visit the HSE website.