By Suzanne Pender
ALONE, the organisation which supports older people, has highlighted the significant lack of accessible and safe transport available to older people during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Alone has received a substantial number of calls to its National Support Line from older people, who are now finding it difficult to access transport due to the country beginning to reopen. As older people rely on public transport to attend important medical appointments and collect necessities like groceries and medication, the organisation is now worried for their safety.
While there is strong evidence that older people are keen to attend necessary hospital appointments, many are apprehensive about using public transport in case they come into contact with a carrier of the virus. The organisation has also raised concerns regarding older people with mobility issues, who may not be able to use public transport and rely on other means of transport such as family members or private ambulances.
Alone is cognisant of the wider systemic issues faced by older people in accessing safe and affordable transport and further delays to appointments are not viable at this time.
The organisation said that the cost of getting taxis to and from appointments means that they are not a viable alternative transport for many older people. Alone has been assisting these transportation queries by providing a redirection for older people to the Irish Red Cross, which has been helping older people attend appointments across the country. With transportation continuously arising as problematic for older people, Covid-19 has only compounded this issue further.
Alone chief executive Seán Moynihan said: “Many older people who cannot drive or do not have access to a car rely on public transport to go about their daily lives, however, the arrival of Covid-19 in Ireland has caused older people to become anxious when using public transport. The only other option for older people is to take taxis to their appointments, which is something that many older people cannot afford on a regular basis. As a result of this, many older people with underlying medical conditions are missing essential check-ups because they do not want to put themselves at further risk by using public transport. This is an issue which is affecting older people in both rural and urban areas.”
Since March, Alone’s National Support Line has received more than 26,174 calls for support. Alone staff and volunteers have made over 127,475 calls to older people who needed support and provided more than 21,549 units of practical support, delivered from the support line, staff and volunteers. Alone is providing ongoing support to more than 13,300 older people who require support for difficulties with loneliness, health, finance, housing, accessing services, Covid-19 and other challenges.
The organisation is encouraging older people who need advice to call Alone on 0818 222024 from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. Contact Alone on 0818 222024 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.