“COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery plan, ‘The Path Ahead’ does not address older people”

ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, are disappointed at the lack of reference to older people in recent Government announcements. The organisation has emphasised the need for a plan for Older Adults to be established as Ireland navigates through the Government’s COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery Plan for 2021 – ‘The Path Ahead’, and is calling on Government to start developing a re-emergence programme for older people and socially and medically vulnerable groups immediately.

Older people over the age of 70 are the third group to be vaccinated in Ireland’s National Vaccination Programme and the organisation is stating it has never been so timely to have a long-term re-emergence programme underway now as the administration of vaccines to this group has begun just last week.

In order to devise this re-emergence programme, ALONE is urgently requesting the establishment of a stakeholder group for Older Adults in order to protect vulnerable individuals and groups in society while also recognising the growing number of older people who are now, due to COVID-19 restrictions and implications, identified as being part of this group. This group will continually work to establish a plan around a re-emergence programme for older people and those within socially and medically vulnerable groups as we navigate through the next part of our journey with COVID-19. ALONE wants to see this group inclusive of representatives from Civil Society, Healthcare, Age Organisations, supportive groups for Vulnerable Adults and relevant Government Departments while providing a space to address emerging issues.

The organisation is concerned about the physical, mental and social challenges older people will now face as they break their period of social isolation and as their day-to-day lives readjust to a new normal. ALONE wants to establish clear guidance around long and short-term care and additional supports for vulnerable groups such as older people in order to help them navigate a post-COVID world and ensure that they are equipped to return to society when things begin to return to normal. The organisation identifies community groups and activations for older people as integral to a successful re-emergence as they will offer older people vital services within their community. It is imperative that these services are encouraged to resume.

Older people have had to largely withdraw from society, with many postponing important and vital medical check-ups and appointments in order to protect themselves from the virus. ALONE have reported an increase in a wide range of mental health impacts among older people, directly resulting from prolonged periods of social restrictions and isolation. ALONE are aware of time it takes to properly implement plans to encourage change. They are seeking action now, so that older people are protected in the coming months. Older people have suffered huge loss of confidence and there must be a programme in place for their re-emergence.

Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE said, “We are very disappointed that older people were not mentioned in the Government of announcement of COVID-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021 – ‘The Path Ahead’. For over a year now our lives have been put on hold as a result of COVID-19. Some older people are among the most vulnerable in our society and it is clear that the pandemic will have detrimental effects on this cohort, as they have had to change the way they live in order to shield themselves from the virus. We must continue to protect our ageing population following the sacrifices that they have made in the past year. We now must ask ourselves, how can we best ensure their safety as they re-emerge from the safety of their homes. We hope to set up a stakeholder group that will ensure that older and vulnerable people are protected throughout the vaccination process and beyond that.”

“By seeking to establish a stakeholder groups to advocate for Older Adults, we will address the issues arising as older people and more vulnerable re-emerge into society and as we navigate through ‘The Path Ahead’ together. While there will be still levels of COVID-19 within the community, we should able to mitigate the risks it will have on vulnerable groups by being prepared, listening to their worries and doubts, assessing the actions that need to be taken and strategising how to implement them as best we can in order to protect these groups. We believe that such a group is essential to provide 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.

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