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ALONE extends Covid-19 helpline times to cope with extra demand from older people

A charity supporting elderly people has extended the opening hours of its Covid-19 support line for older people after it saw the number of calls increase throughout the week.

ALONE said it has received hundreds of calls to the helpline since it launched last Monday and has decided to open it seven days a week.

It has also added extra staff to answer the lines to meet the demand.

Their support line, which is running in collaboration with the Department of Health and the HSE, is available at 0818 222 024 from 8am-8pm, seven days a week and will also be open on St Patrick’s Day.

The service is available to all older people, including those who have not used ALONE’s services before, and is there to complement the clinical advice and information being provided by the HSE through its website and helpline.

Older people who are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 are advised to call their GP.

ALONE CEO Seán Moynihan, said: “Earlier in the week we were hearing from older people who needed some reassurance and who were feeling anxious about the outbreak.

"Now, and particularly over the weekend, we have been receiving increasing numbers of calls from older people who are self-isolating and who require support with getting their groceries, prescriptions and fuel, which we are providing with the help of our volunteers.

“We are working with the HSE, the Department of Health, the Department of Rural and Community Development, Pobal, Rural Link, Volunteer Ireland, The Wheel, and more partner organisations to ensure older people have access to the support they need no matter where they are in the country.”

As well as providing the helpline, advice, reassurance, and support with tasks including grocery and prescription collection and drop off, ALONE is also offering regular check-in calls to older people who may feel isolated or want regular contact throughout this period.

The charity has also appealed to families, neighbours and friends of older people who may be vulnerable to get in touch with the older person they know by phone to share the support line details and to offer their own support to their families and neighbours.

[ul][b]Useful information[/b] [li]The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here [/li] [li]Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;[/li] [li]GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.[/li] [li]ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024[/li] [/ul]