Bishop Michael Router, Chair of the Council for Healthcare of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, is asking people to reach out to the elderly as we enter a new phase of Covid-19 restrictions.
Bishop Router said: “Today’s news is a sad reminder that our elderly parents, grandparents and relatives are amongst the most vulnerable during this pandemic. As society begins a new phase of Covid-19 restrictions I am encouraging people to reach out to support and care for our elderly. As a group that can sometimes be neglected, they have borne the brunt of this pandemic’s wide ranging effects.
“Many older people have been cocooning for several months and these further restrictions are distressing for them especially as the Autumn evenings close in and the days shorten. Whilst we are all now facing new restrictions, there are small things that we can do to rise above our own concerns and make a contribution that will positively affect the lives of those most in need especially the elderly who live alone.
“Perhaps we could phone an elderly neighbor on a regular basis just for a short chat or to inquire if they needed something from the shops or the chemist. It might also be an opportunity to help and encourage those living alone to keep in touch with their faith and give them information on how they can tune in to the celebration of the Eucharist on a local church webcam, on TV or on local radio. Some advice on exercise for those who are able to walk unaided might be useful or information on who to reach out to if they feel anxious or alone.
“I would also ask parishes to make their elderly parishioners aware of a service called Senior Line. Senior Line has a very good free phone confidential listening service for older people provided by trained older volunteers. The number for the service is 1800 80 45 91. The lines are open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm, 365 days a year. It is important for us at this difficult time to be aware of the presence of those who are elderly or alone among us and to discreetly check in on them occasionally.
“It was hugely distressing in the early phase of the Covid-19 pandemic that so many vulnerable people died as a result of the spread of Covid-19 in nursing care homes. As we face a rise in coronavirus cases, we need to remind ourselves that every nursing care home resident is someone’s mother, father, grandparent, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or friend. They have played their part over many decades in contributing to their communities and to the economy. The lives of those who live in such facilities should be valued, respected, and enhanced. Nursing homes should be prioritized by the State to ensure that they have the personnel and equipment necessary to deal with the current Covid-19 crisis. I also would encourage the management of nursing care homes and local clergy to continue to communicate about how best to look after the pastoral care of residents during this difficult time.
“Human life is sacred and precious from the child in the womb to the elderly person in care. We must do all that we can to protect life and to improve the quality of life for those who are particularly vulnerable.
“I wish to acknowledge once again the tremendous work of our doctors, nurses, administrators, chaplains, and ancillary staff in healthcare facilities across the country.”