Age UK Lewisham and Southwark’s safe and independent living team has been highly commended for its work supporting elderly residents during the pandemic.
The team was recognised by the Self Care Coronavirus Innovation Awards, run by the charity Self Care Forum, announced during the annual Self Care week from November 16-22.
Age UK’s local team was celebrated for rapidly mobilising support during the first lockdown and beyond, helping 2,000 vulnerable people aged 68 and over.
Support included collecting prescriptions, food shopping, telephone befriending and circulating specially designed chair exercises and activity packs to keep people moving.
Syeda Hussain, Southwark Health Project Manager said, “Age UK Lewisham and Southwark’s safe and independent living team work in the community to support thousands of older people each year and help them participate and access the full range of services available to address social isolation and promote physical and mental wellbeing.
“Due to COVID-19 face-to-face contact has been suspended and the majority of our clients had to shield and self-isolate with little or no preparation in how to get through this period.
“In response to this sudden closure of our service, the team made welfare calls to identified clients who needed support with prescription collection, food shopping and we also sent out activity packs.
“We created our shop and drop service to support clients who did not have cash, and cannot use online shopping. Our handyperson service continued to do health and safety home visits for free jobs to ensure they remained safe at home and we learned how important digital inclusion was, providing smartphones to those who needed one.
“We also provided slippers to help reduced the risk of falls and made sure staff were up-to-date on their training to support clients with low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.
“The biggest lesson was the importance of a simple phone call made to an older person. The majority of our feedback was older people feeling happy to be remembered and not abandoned. It was and still is an emotional journey for all of us. It’s thanks to the support of our community we’ve been successful thus far.”