New phone initiative launched to check in on older people

A phone call initiative that will allow people to phone older persons to check on their well-being during the Covid-19 outbreak has been launched by the Government.

Michael Ring, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, announced the new ‘befriending phone call’ initiative today, Thursday, April 2, to support participants of the Seniors Alert Scheme.

The initiative will allow older people to receive a regular phone call to check on their well-being and needs during the Covid-19 emergency. The scheme will be operated in conjunction with the social inclusion body POBAL and the charity ALONE.

Minister Ring is using his department’s Seniors Alert Scheme, which provides monitored alarms for older people in their homes, to enable the initiative. It aims to “provide peace of mind and local assistance to older people”, of whom more than 80,000 are registered on the Seniors Alert Scheme.

The initiative requires users to test their alarms to ensure that they are still active. Monitoring providers or local community groups operating the Senior Alerts Scheme service will contact the user.

Once the user tests their alarm, they will be called back and asked if they would like to avail of a befriending call service through ALONE, and either the number of ALONE is given to the participant, or (with their consent) ALONE will be provided with the individual’s contact details to be included in the ‘befriending service’.

“Now is the time to make sure your alarm is working, and to contact your local community organisation if you have any concerns. This initiative is an example of how we are adapting the way we work and using all tools at our disposal to ensure that everyone feels supported and connected at this time,” Minister Ring commented.

ALONE, POBAL and the Seniors Alert Scheme monitoring providers will deliver this service and 670 registered groups will play a vital role in connecting participants to this service, as they are the groups that know their communities best.

The Senior Alerts Scheme is operated locally by some 670 community groups throughout the state, and administered by POBAL on behalf of the minister.