OPINION: It is incumbent on the government, local authorities and the HSE to examine more humane ways of caring for and respecting the elderly who are entitled to their dignity and self-esteem during the lockdown, writes Kerry Independent Alliance Councillor Cllr Michael Gleeson
MANY of our friends and relations, particularly, though not solely, older people, know that feeling of being confined. But they at least have had the consolation of having loving visitors, occasional little gifts and the assurance of being well cared for.
But since almost exactly a year ago when Covid-19 arrived, those special people have been locked away from family, friends and neighbours. They have become isolated in a very real sense. They are our new socially deprived.
There are two people who are very close to us over many years and our lives would have been ones of constant interaction. But since the last weekend of February last year, we have not seen them or they us.
Far worse, however, is the fact they have been unable, for protracted spells, to speak directly with or touch their immediate family members.
Those nursing home residents have been isolated from all who are important to them. That is a cruel sentence for any person and particularly for elderly people who have devoted their lives to caring and sharing for those who are important to them.
It is now incumbent on government, local authorities and the HSE to examine more humane ways of caring for and respecting the elderly.
There is need for a total re-think about how people who still have their cognitive and motor facilities are cared for.
They are entitled to live in community settings where they can have freedom, care, human interaction, particularly with family, and due respect for all that they have achieved.
Virus attacks are not going to disappear forever and even if they are, we still have an obligation to show that due respect and appropriate care, personal and social.
We are fortunate in Kerry to have developments that could and should serve as the benchmarks or prototypes for the nature of community development of which I speak.
I refer to the Holy Cross Clúid housing development on Rock Road, Killarney and maybe even more so, that of Brú na Sinnsir in Rathmore.
These are magnificent places where residents have their own private residence and yet live in social and interactive communities. They are places where meals are communally prepared, if required, and they are locations where residents can meet to relax and re-create. They also have regular access to medical care.
In short, they are locations that afford people the dignity of privacy and the entitlement to social interaction. Too many of our relations and friends have endured too much loneliness and isolation over the past year. We as a society should and must learn.
They made us and moulded us. They are entitled to their dignity and self-esteem and immediate family friendship