Loneliness, isolation, anxiety and fear among New Zealand’s Pacific elderly population are just some of the challenges Treasuring Older Adults (TOA) Pacific Inc. is tackling during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The South Auckland-based not-for-profit organisation founded in 1995 promotes the rights, safety, wellbeing and prolonged independence of Treasured Older Adults, aiga carers and Pacific families.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of TOA Pacific Malia Hamani says it is the organisation’s vision to ensure every Pacific older adult, aiga carer and family in Aotearoa is safe, well and valued by their community.
It is only a few days into the four-week lockdown ordered by the New Zealand Government to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and already TOA Pacific has learnt of older Pacific people living on their own who are experiencing loneliness, anxiety and fear.
“Those who were used to getting picked up at least once a week for various day programmes we host understand they need to stay home but, they still miss being with their peers,” Malia explains.
“Our staff are working from home, and they are phoning around to keep in touch with our older people and are on-hand to source and deliver groceries and other goods our clients may need during the lockdown.
“It is really crucial for us to support and encourage all of our clients, especially the older people, to stay at home,” Malia says.
Clients understand the need to self-isolate and they realise their age and any underlying health issues means their immune system may make them more susceptible to contracting the virus if they come into contact.
“So far, we have not come across any attitudes we need to shift…they eagerly listen to their respective language programmes on the radio for information.
“We are just reminding our clients the supermarket will remain open and when they run out of supplies, topping up is possible.”
Malia says TOA Pacific’s advice for its clients is to follow the advice the Government is providing – to STAY AT HOME.
On the MPP Facebook page, there are published videos with key COVID-19 messages for the community, in the languages of Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Cook Islands, Tokelau, Rotuma, Tuvalu, Kiribati and Niue.
For those who do not use Facebook, the videos can be accessed on the MPP YouTube channel.
Tagata Pasifika broadcast special information programmes for Pacific peoples over the weekend, and Pacific media are sharing important messages over the radio – stay informed.
“We are advising our clients to take heed of the direction to all New Zealanders,” Malia says.
“Follow the advice and wash, assure their medication is topped up to last the period of isolation.
“Get the person who usually helps them get their medication topped up to help or call us if this is not possible.”
Medical clinics and pharmacies are an essential services and will remain open during the lockdown.
If you know of older people near you, please check on them to see if they need anything – while keeping your distance of course.