Age Scotland calls for winter action plan to support Scotland’s older people

Age Scotland has recommended that the Scottish Government draw up a new action plan, setting out how they will support older people to live well and safely throughout winter.

Scotland’s national charity for older people said that a swift and effective national response would help address the “acute challenges” faced by older people as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It would also be an opportunity to “switch on” services previously in place throughout the more restrictive lockdown, as well as addressing any unmet needs that occurred earlier in the year.

Age Scotland has written to the Christina McKelvie, minister for older people and equalities, seeking the support of cabinet to formulate the action plan, which would be this first of its kind across the UK.

Brian Sloan, chief executive of Age Scotland, said: “As we head towards winter, with positive cases of COVID-19 increasing rapidly and the potential for future lockdowns a real possibility, a national response which supports older people through the rest of the year and beyond should be a priority.

“COVID-19 has touched the lives of everyone but the impact it has had on the lives of older people in Scotland has been profound. Whether it is the high level of illness and death rate in this age group, substantial social care challenges, anxieties about receiving the necessary medical treatment, being asked to shield or self-isolate for extensive periods of time, drastic reduction in social interaction, employment issues and safety, and beyond, older people have been at the front line of this crisis.

“The initiatives and services set up by the Scottish Government and others from the outset of this crisis to support people of all ages through lockdown and shielding have largely worked well, so we recommend that they are maintained, and in some cases further developed, so that they can be “switched on” when required and without delay.”

He continued: “I am grateful for the discussions we have already had about this but we recommend that the Scottish Government should now develop an action plan for older people, setting out how they will be supported to live well and safely through winter.

“This action plan would address the acute challenges faced by older people as a result of the pandemic, including those who have been shielding, and highlight the successful interventions made by the Scottish Government, local authorities and the third sector. It is a good opportunity to commit to the necessary services and develop solutions for areas which did not sufficiently meet the need during the more restrictive lockdown.

“We believe this is an important chance to act ahead of the challenges which may arise over winter, particularly if the concept of “circuit break” lockdowns are introduced, and hope that the Scottish Government is able to take forward our recommendations.” 

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