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

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.

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