Catherine McGuigan, National Programme Lead at Age Friendly Ireland, writes here on the innovative practices and initiatives taking place around Ireland in response to Covid-19 based on an Age Friendly Ireland report.
Over the past few weeks, Age Friendly Ireland have been working on a report of innovative practices and initiatives taking place around Ireland in response to Covid-19. Age Friendly Ireland gathered the information for this report based on submissions from the Local Authority Age Friendly Programme Managers, submissions to the Age Friendly Ireland Covid-19 Daily Update newsletter and also from the responses received from its stakeholders to a World Health Organisation survey at the end of April 2020. So the report is providing the reader with a real time analysis of actions in Ireland. The report concentrates, largely, on efforts at community response level and it showcases over 300 initiatives nationwide. As such the report highlights good practice and facilitates shared learning that can have global application.
Age Friendly Ireland, as a shared service of local government, has supported each of the 31 local Age Friendly Programmes to respond to the needs of the ageing population and other vulnerable groups during this crisis. Communication and information provision have been a key component of this work. At the start of the pandemic, it undertook to collate and distribute a Daily Covid-19 (previously highlighted by LGIU) to all stakeholders including local authorities, Older People’s Councils, elected members, NGO groups and other partners. This is a daily essential guide to services and initiatives supporting older people in Ireland during Covid-19. The collated information is shared with all Age Friendly Programme Managers across the Republic, enhancing opportunities for collaborative working and helping to replicate successful models.
A dedicated Age Friendly Website in each local authority area was established as a one-stop-shop for all information relevant to older people, including Covid-19 related information and mapping of services. These local websites link into the national Age Friendly Ireland, which contains national information and Shared Service resources. Age Friendly Ireland has provided training to call centre personnel in Age Friendly Communication, based on existing guidelines.
Working at national level, the Age Friendly Shared Service is contributing to the national response by flagging up issues arising from Covid-19 identified by older people and linking with the relevant stakeholders to resolve identified challenges. Many local issues were identified by Older People’s Council members in relation to areas such as driver licencing, fuel allowance, telecommunications, transportation and other topics, which have now been resolved through a collaborative effort.
Age Friendly Ireland, through its network of Older People’s Councils (OPC’s), is supporting the campaign which was created to acknowledge and encourage the enormous effort being made by everyone in Ireland to stay safe and protect each other.
Members of OPC’s are encouraging other older people in Ireland to continue cocooning, they have sent photos of themselves with a rainbow carrying the words #HoldFirm which are being tweeted and promoted via the daily news and website.