Open letter to older people from Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services Julie Morgan
The last few weeks have seen our lives change drastically. We have all had to make changes and get used to doing things differently.
The older population in Wales make a huge contribution to our communities and our economy whether it be through looking after grandchildren, supporting families, volunteering or going to work.
At this unprecedented time when we would want to be with our family, I know how difficult it is to accept that this is not possible. However I also know that by staying apart from our loved ones, we are helping to protect ourselves, others and our NHS.
I am now of an age where I need to take particular care. It feels strange working from home, not being able to go out and about and I’ll admit, it has taken a bit of getting used to! However government guidance is clear that I must avoid face-to-face contact with people, except for those with whom I live.
These are challenging times for us all, but especially for those who live on their own. It’s only natural to want to have contact with others; without it we can feel lonely and cut off. We have heard a lot lately about all the on-line services that are there to help us. However, not all of us are comfortable with or have access to digital technology such as WhatsApp, Facebook or Skype.
For many of us, the telephone is the best way of keeping connected. Even though we cannot meet up with family, friends, neighbours or work colleagues, we can still stay in touch over the telephone. It’s good to be able to chat to someone to share hints and tips about how to keep yourself occupied in the day and stay healthy, or even just to chat about what was on TV the night before.
By staying in touch we can help each other out. We need to remember though not to be afraid to ask for help. If you feel unwell, need some food shopping done or a prescription collected, tell someone, be it family, friends or a neighbour.
I know for many of you that making sure you can get your prescription has been a big worry. If you do not have anyone who can collect it for you, you can contact your community pharmacy who are there to help. Also local councils across Wales have been working with volunteers to help with prescription deliveries and shopping.
Age Cymru’s helpline continues to be available for advice. It’s open from 10:00am to 4:00pm, Monday to Friday and the number to ring is 08000 223 444. If you are over 70 years of age and live alone, you can also register for its recently launched check-in-and chat service, whereby a member of staff telephones you daily to answer any basic queries you may have, suggest local services or simply just to chat.
The journey ahead will not be easy for any of us, but we in government are working with local authorities, the NHS, social care services and local organisations to do everything we can to respond to COVID-19 and protect the most vulnerable here in Wales.
I will be in touch again as we move through these difficult time but for now take care and my very best wishes to you all.
Julie Morgan AC/AM
Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services