Older Aussies now have access to a new Covid-19 hotline to help ease the confusion and obtain advice during the coronavirus outbreak.
Described as a “one-stop source for personal support”, the hotline – which was created by COTA, National Seniors Australia, the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) and Dementia Australia — promises to answer questions and provide up-to-date guidelines during the pandemic for the nation’s seniors.
Australian seniors can call the hotline throughout the week to have their questions answered, with specially-trained staff from a senior’s advocacy organisation available to provide support from Monday to Friday.
Speaking about the new support measure, Ian Yates, the chief executive of COTA said it’s common for older people to have concerns and uncertainties about the coronavirus, and with many unable to connect to the internet, a hotline is the best solution to help ease those worries.
“The government has very sensibly advised Australians over 70 to stay at home as much as possible,” he said. “This means many people have questions about what they should or shouldn’t do or how they can get access to groceries, health care and other services.
“This hotline will provide the information they need and allow them to speak to an organisation they can trust about their concerns.”
Nick McDonald, chief executive officer of Prestige Inhome Care, backed the creation of the hotline and said the influx of information around Covid-19 can be a bit of a minefield for Aussies – let alone the elderly. He said they’ve received calls from many concerned clients and their families about everything from hygiene to the use of personal protective equipment over the past few weeks and having more channels to receive the correct advice is beneficial.
“Broadly, I think the more channels people have for getting information, the better,” McDonald said. “There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach; some people want to know every single detail, while others just want to know the key points.
“We want people to know there’s help out there, especially in the current climate — you don’t need to be fearful of that. With the right agency or right organisation supporting you, there’s no greater risk of contracting the virus. Getting the support will help keep [older Aussies] healthy, both physically and mentally.”
Meanwhile, Craig Gear, chief executive officer at OPAN said the hotline will also be beneficial for those accessing aged care services and who are disproportionately impacted by health precautions and restrictions. He said it’s normal for people to be scared and confused during this uncertain time and assured Aussies that there’s no such thing as a stupid question.
“Many are unsure what is safe [and] what isn’t,” he said. “The hotline is an important part of what will need to be a big community response. We need everyone checking in and supporting older people in aged care in particular because they’re vulnerable to both the virus and social isolation.
“Our message to older people is that there’s no need to do this alone. There are services there if you need them. There are no stupid questions.”
The National Covid Older Persons Information Line can be contacted at 1800 171 866, Monday to Friday, except public holidays, from 8.30am to 6pm.
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