‘It is going to be hard on all of us going out again after so long’  following restrictions

‘It is going to be hard on all of us going out again after so long’ following restrictions

By Mary Dennehy

“ABSOLUTELY” is how Bridie Sweeney responded when asked for her opinion on calls for supports to be put in place for older people emerging from cocooning.

Alone, the organisation which supports older people, has requested a long-term, re-emergence programme for older people and those within socially and medically vulnerable groups.

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Bridie Sweeney

The organisation is seeking to get a conversation started on what supports members of the older community will need as they safely ‘break their period of social isolation’ and their day-to-day lives ‘readjust to a new normal’.

The CEO of Alone, Seán Moynihan has expressed the organisation’s disappointment that older people were not mentioned in the Government’s announcement of Covid-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021.

Bridie Sweeney (89) lives in Tallaght and is well known across the community for her years of volunteering and contribution to the area – which has spanned the decades from when Tallaght was a rural village up until today. 

Lockdown had its challenges for Bridie, who, feeling blessed for all her friends and the many phone calls, is used to getting up and out.

“I’ve been cocooning for the best part of the year”, Bridie this week told The Echo.

“I’ve been following Government guidelines and Dr Tony Holohan’s advice and staying home.

“I work in the St Vincent de Paul shop in Tallaght Village and I’m a member of the local SVP conference.

“Luckily, I can do some of my conference work from home and over the phone.

“However, everything I’m part of or involved in is closed… everything I engage in everyday is gone for the moment.

“I don’t really have anything to look forward to at the moment.”

Bridie has received her first vaccination, with her second dose due in the next two weeks.

However, how does Bridie feel about life after vaccination?

“I do feel ready to head back out but I always went to bed with somewhere to go when I woke up”, Bridie said.

“I’d get up and have a plan but there’s nothing open at the moment, there’s nothing there when you open your door.

“I hope I am not nervous and can get back into my club, my work in the SVP shop and my church… all the things that fill my week.

“It is going to be hard on all of us going out again after so long, but we live in a great community… and I’ll help anyone along who needs it.”

When asked if she believes a plan needs to be put in place to support people who have been cocooning for a year, Bridie said, “absolutely”.

Speaking with The Echo, Seán Moynihan, CEO of Alone, stressed how many people who cocooned for the past year were, up until March 2020, active members of their families and communities, minding grandkids, volunteering, running football clubs.

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Seán Moynihan, CEO of Alone

“Some people haven’t driven a car for a year, they haven’t been out, not seen family and friends, not engaged with their hospital”, he said.

“We want to start this conversation now, what supports do we need when everyone is vaccinated?”

Alone received 48,000 calls in 2020 with loneliness, anxiety and stress being experienced by an increasing number of callers.

“We must continue to protect our ageing population following the sacrifices that they have made in the past year”, Mr Moynihan said.

“We now must ask ourselves, how can we best ensure their safety as they re-emerge from the safety of their homes.

“We hope to set up a stakeholder group that will ensure that older and vulnerable people are protected throughout the vaccination process and beyond that.”

He added: “While there will be still levels of Covid-19 within the community, we should be able to mitigate the risks it will have on vulnerable groups by being prepared, listening to their worries and doubts, assessing the actions that need to be taken and strategising how to implement them as best we can in order to protect these groups.”

Contact Alone on 0818 222 024 seven days a week, from 8am to 8pm or visit ALONE for further details.

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