After many weeks of working remotely, co-ordinating essential support and services for seniors, Age Concern Otago will reopen its central Dunedin offices and the Octagon Club from Monday.
Age Concern Otago chief executive Debbie George said many older people had been living in isolation for a long time, and “now we want to encourage them to come out”.
“I believe it is particularly important for older people to start to get back to pre-Covid routines, especially around socialising with others,” Ms George said.
“The Age Concern team is really looking forward to reconnecting with people in person – we miss them.”
Ms George said the Age Concern Otago staff had really stepped up during the Covid-19 lockdown, providing social work and elder abuse support by phone and online.
Initially, the largest challenge was to ensure the continued delivery of meals on wheels – especially as a large proportion of volunteer drivers were over 70 years old.
Local service clubs and Red Cross drivers had stepped up, and Compass had also been very supportive, she said.
“Meals on wheels very quickly returned to being a streamlined service.”
Ms George said the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 and 3 shutdown had been a “time of reflection” for the organisation, in terms of the classes, programmes and courses offered to local seniors.
To give seniors the opportunity to have their say, Age Concern is running a survey asking for their feedback on everything from social opportunities to cooking and driving classes, and elder abuse.
The Octagon Club regularly hosts special-interest groups, exercise classes, a shared Friday lunch, social outings, variety concerts, a members gym and a space for sharing books and puzzles.
“Now, we are keen to hear about the sorts of services our people want going forward,” Ms George said.
Nationally, Age Concern New Zealand has launched a toll-free number, 800652-105, for seniors to call to access information or assistance.