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New guidelines designed to ensure older people feel comfortable after cocooning.

As towns across County Cork prepare to re-open, the Cork County Older People’s Council is asking the wider population, communities and business generally to be alert to the needs of older people.

Project ACT, Cork County Council’s initiative to help activate the county’s towns during the COVID-19 crisis, has put support for the older population at the centre of its roll-out plans. Details are currently being finalised in 23 towns for the temporary redistribution of road space for motorists and pedestrians, usage of outdoor space, the need for temporary pedestrianisation measures, street furniture, repainting of pedestrian crossings, and parking management.

Each Town Team is to consider the Council’s new CARE guidelines, which have been prepared through extensive consultation with the Cork County Older People’s Council, in any decision made to ensure all members of society are treated equally with equal access to services. These guidelines ask people to observe the following;

  • CONSIDER older and vulnerable people’s needs as they re-join our communities after weeks of cocooning and isolation.
  • ASSIST older and vulnerable people by respecting age-friendly parking spaces and accessible parking spaces for people with disabilities in our towns, villages and shopping centres.
  • RESPECT physical distancing for older and vulnerable people and give them space on our streets, parks and walkways.
  • EMPATHISE with older and vulnerable people and understand that they may feel especially anxious at this time.

Liz Maddox, Chairperson of the Cork County Older People’s Council says, “People who have been cocooning are as eager as anybody to get back into towns and live the fullest life possible after weeks of isolation. There will be a natural anxiety amongst this more vulnerable group, and we are asking everyone across society to be conscious of this as our towns re-open. What we are asking is that people be considerate, assist where they can, respect social distancing and empathise with those who feel vulnerable. There has been tremendous community spirit in recent weeks.”

The CARE guidelines have been drafted as part of the Cork Age-Friendly County Programme, an initiative of Cork County Council. The Cork Older People’s Council is a representative group of older people from across the county whose role is to represent the “voice of the older person”, and guide the Council in its policies, operations and service delivery.

Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Ian Doyle highlighted how the Council’s CARE guidelines ensure consistently in terms of physical, economic and social opportunities for members of the older population, “Ageing is a matter that will affect us all and I want to see such valued members of our society enjoy the very best quality of life.  Following weeks of cocooning it is vital to ensure that when our older population venture into our towns, they feel supported and safe in doing so.”

Chief Executive of Cork County Council Tim Lucey says, “When activating our county towns we have to be conscious of all of those who will use them. Project ACT involves a €6 million investment in supporting communities and businesses, but most importantly, supports our citizens. Everyone should feel as safe as possible, and that is one of the key drivers for our Town Teams in the decision making process. We have all rallied to support older people since the start of this crisis, and I am very confident that people will embrace the spirit of the CARE guidelines as normal activity returns in the weeks and months ahead.”

The CARE message is being distributed via social media, signage in car parks and parks, and through support from other community bodies such as the GAA and an Garda Siochána.

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