Andrew Gardner, Chief Executive and Anthony Sheppard, Chair comment jointly as follows:
“We are committed to the wellbeing of older people in the county and would reassure people that we are continuing to deliver our core services. We would encourage any older person who is worried about how they are going to manage during the current pandemic to get in touch with us.
Information & Advice 01473 351234
Home Help Service 01473 357070
Befriending 01473 353061
Volunteering 01473 298684
Good Day Calls 01473 353071
Emergency Shopping 01473 353071
Chinwags/ tablet courses) 01473 298683
Press Enquiries 01473 353071
Fundraising 01473 353071
We are encouraging people who are pledging their support, to contact their local community resources - community centres, churches, parish clerks (by email) to see if there are any community led activities being implemented. If you are concerned about older people in your community there are Suffolk Good Neighbour Schemes set up across the county who have volunteers who may be able to assist with everyday tasks.
In the longer term, we would encourage individuals to consider becoming a telephone befriender - this would involve signing up as a volunteer and going through our induction process - this is a weekly commitment which would be a 20-30 minute telephone call once a week to an older person (this is done through a matching profile). You can find out more here
At a very local level, we would encourage people to keep an eye out for their older neighbours - perhaps pop a note through their door with your phone number on, saying where you live, and offering to get them shopping, collect prescriptions, or just for a general chat over the phone.
The individual services outlined below are based on our Business Continuity Plan and the prevailing medical advice from Professor Chris Whitty the Chief Medical Officer for England and from Public Health England. Employment-based advice for our staff is being provided by ACAS and the government websites.
We will continue to take the advice given by the government and apply it in a practical way to our own services.
Visiting befriending has been put on hold until government advice changes. Telephone befriending calls are continuing, with additional calls being made to visiting befriending clients, where possible. The service continues with staff working from home and some existing volunteers have agreed to take on additional clients. The befriending service is also supporting older people by making 'Good Day Calls' for the duration of the pandemic.
Chilton Day Service
The centre remains open but clients have been advised not to attend at present.
Staff are making regular phone calls to clients, their family and carers to ensure that they are fit and well. If there is a need to provide shopping or pick up prescriptions for example we will endeavour to do this with the staff we have.
In partnership with the statutory sector we have extended the telephone based support we provide to anyone with dementia who is referred to us via an agreed referral path.
Our Pop Up Chinwags have been postponed due to the current situation. Our staff are making regular 'Good Day Calls' to the Chinwag Guests to ensure they are fit and well and if they need us to do anything for them then we will.
In response to the pandemic we have established an emergency shopping service. This service can also collect prescriptions and we would encourage anyone who is concerned about how they are going to pay for their shopping to get in touch
Please call 01473 353071
Fundraising & Marketing
Our team will not be attending any planned events in the foreseeable future until it is safe to resume usual practice.
Services will not be actively promoted within the community where there is to be any type of gathering until it is safe to resume usual practice.
We have launched our emergency fundraising appeal 'Good Day Calls' further details can be found here
Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic it has become necessary for Age UK Suffolk to make some temporary changes to our Home Help Service, in order to continue to protect all of our clients and Home Help staff.
From Monday 20th April, we temporarily suspended the Home Help Service. At this time we anticipated that our normal service may be able to resume in June, however, this will not yet be possible. As we stated previously we have been following the government guidance carefully which states that people should still avoid working in individual’s homes unless there is a critical need to do so. Examples of this would include the provision of essential personal care or essential maintenance. Whilst we understand the value of our Home Service, our activities do not fall within this category. As a consequence our Board has made the difficult decision to continue the suspension of service. The safety of our staff and our clients remains of paramount importance.
We will continue to offer support to clients during this difficult period in the following ways:
- The Manager and other staff working from home will continue to ring clients on a regular basis just to keep in touch during this long period of isolation and to assist where possible with any queries. The Home Help number remains 01473 357070.
- We will continue to support clients to find alternatives if they ordinarily had meal preparation through our Home Help Service
- If clients need support with shopping they can contact our Community Links Team on 01473 353071. They will look at how they can best help and they have links with a number of other community groups who may also be able to support our clients.
- Our free Information and Advice Line remains open Monday – Friday from 9am until 1pm. They can be contacted on 01473 351234. The team can offer assistance and advice on many topics such as aspects of welfare rights, including benefits. We can support clients to claim benefits and undertake benefits checks over the phone to ensure clients are claiming what you are entitled to.
- Our Befriending Service continues to operate with the support of our volunteers. The team recognise that many people are experiencing increased social isolation at this time and may well enjoy a call from one of our friendly volunteers. If you or anyone you know would like to find out more about having a telephone befriender please ring 01473 353061.
Other contact details for support outside Age UK Suffolk
Home, but not alone - 0800 876 6926
Please be assured that the decision to suspend the Home Help Service was not taken lightly and has been given much consideration. Our main priority is to protect our clients and our Home Help staff, and continue to keep people safe and well in their own home, whilst providing support where we can.
We will continue to monitor the situation and will contact our clients as soon as we are able to resume our usual level of service.
We will be adding information to our website of other support agencies that can offer assistance during this time, as and when they become available.
Information and Advice
The majority of our information and advice is now telephone based with additional support from the Age UK National information and advice line outside of our normal helpline hours.
Any face to face appointments have been postponed and a telephone alternative offered where possible.
Our dedicated volunteers have been asked not to visit anyone in their own home, however, we are inviting all volunteers to take on other roles in the interim period, such as telephone befriending, to address the debilitating effects of loneliness and/or social isolation, and helping with the delivery of emergency shopping.
We continue to monitor our charitable support and activities in accordance with the latest government guidance and news reports as they unfold on a daily basis and the above information may be subject to change going forward.
Please be assured that we have a very experienced and strong team here at Age UK Suffolk which is made up of the Board of Trustees, the Management Team and operational and frontline service staff and volunteers who operate across the charity. Together, we are continuously working to mitigate risk, whilst delivering the valuable services that are so important to our clients, their families and carers more than ever before.
In the meantime, we will continue to provide updates as necessary".
Useful websites with up to date information
Visit the Coffee and Friends website for ideas and suggestions of ways to support your own well-being, and that of your neighbours and your community, to help ward off loneliness and maintain social connections in a time of physical distancing.
Page updated 1st June 2020