Support group commended for helping elderly during lockdown

Axel and Steve from Age UK Lewisham & Southwark’s SAIL handyperson service. Pic: Age UK Lewisham and Southwark

A group which has helps elderly people in Lewisham during the pandemic has been commended for its work.

Age UK Lewisham and Southwark’s Safe and Independent Living Team (SAIL) were highly commended for the 2020 Self Care Coronavirus Innovation Award.

The Self Care Forum which gave the award as part of its Self Care Week said Lewisham and Southwark “rapidly mobilised community support for its diverse elderly population during the lockdown. Helping 2000 vulnerable and hard to reach people aged 68 and over with prescription collections, food shopping, telephone befriending and by circulating specially designed, chair-based exercise activity packs to help keep people moving”.

Age UK Lewisham and Southwark work to support thousands of older people every year. Safe and Independent Living is for those aged 50+ and their carers to help them integrate fully with their local community, including ensuring they can access leisure and social activities to combat isolation and promote physical and mental wellbeing.

In response to the Covid-19 lockdown, the SAIL team made welfare calls to all those aged 68+ who had used their services over the past two years to ensure they were safe and had access to food/shopping services. 

Many of these people, particularly those who were isolated and lacking a support network, and those with underlying health conditions, may otherwise have been overlooked if not for the SAIL team. 

Syeda Hussian, Southwark Health Projects Manager at Age UK Lewisham and Southwark, told ELL: “We feel honoured to receive this highly commended recognition from the Self Care Forum. The older people we support are what drives us. This recognition has allowed us to take a moment to reflect on what we have accomplished, and will continue to accomplish for the safety and well-being of our clients.”

They helped reduce social isolation through telephone calls, activity packs sent by post which included chair-based exercises; cupboard recipes; puzzles and colouring-in for mental stimulation and mindfulness. 

Lewisham and Southwark’s SAIL team said: “To date we have contacted over 3000 clients, and made over 5000 phone calls in addition to sending out letters for those we could not reach by phone.” 

The team created their own shop and drop service to support clients unable to use online shopping, as well as a “Sloppy slipper” initiative, giving a free pair of slippers to older people who have had a trip or fall in the last 12 months.

The ‘handyperson’ service has continued to do home visits throughout lockdown, offering services such as installing grab rails, key-safes, and changing light bulbs, to ensure they remained safe at home. 

From March, the team have carried out 19 home fire safety visits, 31 fall prevention jobs, 33 home security jobs and 9 garden jobs so people could continue to enjoy their outside space.

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