Alone’s COVID-19 support line and services for older people

ALONE have launched a COVID-19 support line, which is available to all older people including those that have never used their services before. Supporting the clinical advice and information being provided by the HSE, ALONE’s support line is available at 0818 222 024 from 8am-8pm, seven days a week.


The ALONE helpline offers advice and support for COVID-19 and other issues that are arising for older people at this time, including difficulties in relation to physical and mental health, loneliness, isolation, finance, safety, and housing. As well as ongoing telephone support, volunteers are also collecting and delivering prescriptions, groceries or other necessary items for the older people. ALONE’s network of support is constantly expanding and evolving to meet the needs of older people throughout Ireland.

They are working in collaboration with Local Authorities and the Local Authority Community Response Forum providing practical supports to older and medically vulnerable people. ALONE’s support line has become 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. The partnership is crucial in mobilising a rapid response in every county to make sure everyone is looked after.

ALONE have since launched a dedicated referral line for professionals including Home Care Providers, Local Authorities, Local Development Companies, Hospitals, Primary Care, the HSE, GP’s, members of PPN’s and other community services, including pharmacy staff. This referral pathway is operational seven days a week, Monday – Friday 8am – 8pm, Saturday – Sunday 9am – 5pm by calling 01 223 3632. This number is specifically for professionals who wish to make a referral including your own staff, and all older people should continue to phone ALONE’s national support line number at 0818 222 024.

As family members, neighbours and communities return to work, there may be a reduction in supports available to those who are at risk. ALONE has highlighted that physical and mental health difficulties are causing increased challenges for older people, with many calling ALONE’s helpline to say they have fallen or are experiencing illness or pain, but do not want to go to GP surgeries or A&E due to anxiety around contracting COVID-19. Lack of access to chiropody and other services are having a direct impact on people’s ability to leave their home for exercise safely, and many callers indicate deconditioning and point to increasing frailty as a result of cocooning. ALONE have also noted a continuing increase in the number of older people expressing very low mood due to cocooning.

It is not yet know what the full impact of cocooning will have on our older people of Ireland, who are medically and socially vulnerable. So we are encouraging all older people experiencing difficulties to please seek help and for younger people to seek supports for older relatives and neighbours that Alone are offering. For more information visit https://alone.ie/

COVID-19 Everything you need to know

We would like to remind everyone to please use trusted sources only, for more information on COVID-19, healthcare and homecare workers information, mental health and the virus, government measures and employment please take a look at some of the below websites:

HSPC – information and guidance for healthcare workers https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/guidanceforhealthcareworkers/

HSE information on symptoms, treatment, self-isolation and more https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/coronavirus.html

HSE – Minding your mental health https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/mental-health/minding-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.html

HSEFacts and protecting ourselves https://www.smh.ie/assets/files/pdf/your_mental_wellbeing_during_covid-19.pdf

Gov.ieIreland and COVID-19. The latest updates on health advice, government measures, employment benefits etc https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/c36c85-covid-19-coronavirus/

We have lots of job vacancies available nationwide, please have a look at the jobs section on our website for something near you. You can also call our homecare team on 1800 400 900 and follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/myhomecare/

Mental Health Day Care Services

Older people prioritise honesty in mental health day care services

Elderly people attending day care, for those suffering acute mental health problems, want to be listened to and to be told the truth, a new study has shown.

A non-judgmental attitude by staff and a pleasant “homely” atmosphere in day care centers were also deemed important by service users who worry about the potential stigma involved in mental healthcare.

Dr Geraldine McCarthy, consultant psychiatrist with the Psychiatry of Later Life Service in the north west, said that as life-expectancy in Ireland increases, the mental health needs of older people are becoming increasingly important.

Research was carried out among older people from Sligo, Leitrim, west Cavan and south Donegal who formerly attended a Sligo-based day care facility for people undergoing a mental health crisis, such as a suicide attempt, a recent dementia diagnosis or a new onset psychotic episode.

It probed the experiences of both service users and their carers in a region with a population of 15,500 in the 65-plus age group, the highest proportion of older people in the country.

Dr McCarthy described the findings as “quite positive” and said service users, many with acute mental health problems who were able to get through a crisis period, felt they were listened to by staff .

Respondents stressed the importance of being safe, being treated as individuals, being listened to, understood and being given hope.

Dr McCarthy said the research highlighted the importance of “self-integrity” for people under the care of the mental health services, who worried about the stigma involved.

According to the report, the perception of an “open door” at the center and the pleasant homely atmosphere had a positive impact on service users

The research involved interviews with 13 service users, three male and 10 female, and with six carers, three men and three women. The service users were aged from 68 years to 88 years while a noteworthy feature of the report was the high age profile of carers who were aged 45-75, with an average age of 63.

“This is becoming more common. You see carers in their 60s who perhaps lived overseas and came home to look after a mother who is 90,” said Dr McCarthy.

The social aspect of attending the center and meeting other people with mental health issues was identified as a benefit.

Researchers noted that “a sense of hope” was instilled through swapping stories and experiences.

Original Article Source – http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/health/2013/0102/1224328317070.html

In response to the article above which was researched and published by The Irish Times we strongly agree that any Elderly people suffering acute mental health problems should be at least given the common courtesy of being listened to and being told the truth. The reality is that we should not need a study to be completed to realise this as a basic need for this group of people. Any staff encountered in any day care center should be fully trained in all areas of people skills, including the skill of being able to break down the barriers and stigma attached to mental health issues and to be able to reassure the clients and also make them aware of how important it is to talk and open up to people about any concerns or feelings they may have.

With Ireland having such a high suicide rate among the young we find that a lot of the focus on mental health in Ireland falls on this age group and unfortunately a lot of the information and messages never reach the Elderly group. With mental health issues and suicide rates rising after the fallout from the Celtic Tiger it is vitally important that every age group is targeted and receives as much information as possible, through a greater awareness we can help each other tackle this major problem.

To take the step of trying to talk to someone or discuss their problems is such as massive barrier for the Elderly to get over. We have to remember that in todays age the young are more likely to open up and talk, they have grown up in the age of the world wide web where discussion, social sharing and access to forums and groups is encouraged at every turn, they share details and life stories daily. Compare this to the Elderly age group where talking and discussing problems was not exactly encouraged, in a time when men were physical workers and grafters, or to repeat an old saying “when men were men and sheep were scared”. By no means am I trying to lighten the topic with that last comment but rather to remind people of the impact of that statement “when men were men” has had, it insinuates that todays young are lesser men, that the elderly came from a time when men were harder and more manly. If you grew up in that age then discussing any mental health issues you may have had would have been considered a weakness, a lesser man.

Any staff encountering this age group must realise this and make sure they retain a non-judgmental attitude and maintain a pleasant “homely” atmosphere in the day care centers  As the article states attending these day care centers and meeting and discussing mental health issues has been identified as a benefit which instills a sense of hope, a critical element in the management and recovery from mental health issues.

Taking into account the positive effects of attending social events we fully support the http://firstfortnight.ie/ First Fortnightcampaign of Challenging Mental Health Prejudice through Creative Arts. This is a fantastic event which runs from the 2nd January to the 12th January. Since its inception in 2009, First Fortnight’s key aim has been to challenge mental health stigma and prejudice through the creative arts. They believe the arts allow us to create a space where people can talk about mental health issues in a very non-scripted manner and help to change people’s perceptions about an issue that effects us all.
They are an arts-based mental health organisation, a festival and, from December 2012, a mental health service provider with the exciting launch of the First Fortnight Center for Creative Therapies. A charity-based organisation, First Fortnight is run entirely by seven volunteers.

For a list of events please visit http://firstfortnight.ie/whats-on/calendar/ for full details.