ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, is partnering with Dublin City Council (DCC) to provide support and assistance to older people during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis.
Along with the Dublin City Age Friendly Alliance and Pobal, these partner organisations aim to work together to streamline requests for help, in order to ensure that all vulnerable older people who need support or assistance, get it.
ALONE is already operating a national support line for older people that was set up in collaboration with the HSE and the Department of Health. The line is open seven days a week from 8am to 8pm, and it has received over 3,300 calls to date.
Speaking about the new partnership, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Tom Brabazon, said that it is "vital" that we take care of members of society who are most at risk.
"The reality for a lot of elderly people in this situation is that they are too scared to go outside in case they come into contact with a carrier of the disease and fall ill with the virus. By working together, we can ensure that when these older people call the support line, they are given the advice and help that they need by a trained staff member," he commented.
The support line will be a single point of contact from which all requests can be assessed and processed appropriately.
According to ALONE, this will be achieved by bringing together the Gardai, community partners, volunteers and DCC to provide a national response, and create a model that other groups and local authorities can replicate.
All of the organisations involved will work together to ensure that all staff and volunteers are fully trained and Garda vetted, and that they adhere to best practice guidelines for dealing with older people.
They will also work towards developing long-term relationships in the event that other crises in the future occur.
According to ALONE chief executive, Sean Moyhihan, the helpline is currently dealing with a large number of requests for information and daily contact.
"However, as we move to the next phase, there is increasing demand for deliveries of food, medication and fuel, which are things that most people take for granted.
"We hope that this partnership will enable us to increase the levels of support that we already offer to older people across the country, who may be feeling scared or isolated due to the necessary health restrictions imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus," Mr Moyhihan said.
He noted that ALONE is already working with multiple partners "and going forward we will involve other organisations to help address health and wellbeing issues".
The charity said that it is working to add other local authorities to this partnership, and already, a number of other county councils have indicated their interest.
"Many older people are self-isolating as a precautionary measure to avoid contracting coronavirus, however this can make everyday tasks such as grocery shopping or collecting prescriptions impossible.
With the introduction of a streamlined support service, we can ensure that these people are looked after when they most need it. Until the curve has been flattened and it is safe for normal life to resume, our organisations will work together to protect the vulnerable members of our community," commented Beatrice Casserly, head of the Dublin City Age Friendly Programme.
For more information on ALONE, click here, or call the support line on 0818 222 024.
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