ALONE, the organisation that supports older people is encouraging members of the public to protect dignity by being mindful of older people in our society on Global Dignity Day, Wednesday, October 21. The organisation works with many older people who have experienced a loss of dignity and assists them in finding the necessary supports through their support coordination service. However, the limitations of the pandemic have introduced a new cohort of older people to the organisation who are in receipt of support for the very first time.
Dignity is “the right of a person to be valued and respected for their own sake, and to be treated ethically.” ALONE reminds us to maintain the respect while understanding the value of older people as they are net contributors to society. Dignity is a human right and must be reflected in our treatment towards older people now and into the future of uncertainty.
Since March, ALONE’s National Support Line has received in excess of 35,428 calls for support. ALONE staff and volunteers have made more than 201,446 calls to older people who needed support, and provided more than 4,992 units of practical support, delivered from the support line, staff and volunteers. ALONE is providing ongoing support to more than 15,464 older people who require support for difficulties with loneliness, health, finance, housing, accessing services, COVID-19 and other challenges.
Global Dignity Day was established in 2005 by Prince Haakon of Norway, and focuses on empowering individuals with the concept that every human being has the universal right to lead a dignified life. ALONE believe that in the midst of the pandemic, we must respect an older person’s decision about how they live with COVID-19 in our society as they too have the right to choose how they live their lives.
ALONE assists older people to maintain their dignity through their support coordination service, which assesses the needs of the individual and creates a support plan tailored to their needs. The organisation has consistently advocated for improved, user-led home care services for older people, so that they access the supports they need to age at home as they wish, for as long as they wish. While ALONE had previously seen requests for support from older people who are medically and socially vulnerable, they are reporting an increase in those who are recently finding themselves at a loss of independence due to the pandemic.
Seán Moynihan, CEO of ALONE, stated; “On this Global Dignity Day, we would like to remind any older person who may be struggling to reach out to ALONE for support, assistance and advice; you are not alone. Our support coordination service is in place to ensure that older people receive the support they need to live their best life. We have identified new types of older people coming to us for support subsequent to the constraints of the pandemic - we are here for you too!”
He continued, “It is important for people to remember that we will all age eventually, and we will all need supports someday. On this Global Dignity Day, we are encouraging members of the public to reach out to older people in their lives and to check on them regularly. Often older people can feel embarrassed when asking for help, but a brief phone call to check in on them could encourage them to get in touch with a support organisation for assistance. The Level 5 restrictions set to be imposed from midnight tonight will see many people being stripped of their independence once more, but we must remember that for those who are medically vulnerable this is a feeling they are already acquainted with.”
ALONE is encouraging older people who need advice to call ALONE on, 0818 222 024 from 8am-8pm, seven days a week. The helpline, which is running in collaboration with the Department of Health, the HSE and Local Authorities, is available to all older people including those who have not used ALONE’s services previously.