Older people in Oldham are being supported during the Coronavirus pandemic by an innovative partnership project.

The Promoting Independent People (PIP Service), led by Age UK, has seen nearly 3 times the number of older people and their families asking for help and support over the past six months compared to precovid times.

Over 2,000 people have been helped by PIP, providing a range of services including help with daily life (medications, shopping, equipment) as well as tackling social isolation by being a friend.

The need to socially distance has also provided a challenge. Following strict guidelines throughout the pandemic they have continued to offer doorstep visits to the homes of older people to offer them support, company, and a familiar face.

The PIP service has continued to carry out practical deliveries of food, medication and small aids and pieces of equipment to keep people safe and well in their own homes during a difficult, frightening and isolating time.  

They have also helped people to access virtual support when required. This has included telephone befriending, library service, as well as shopping and meals services.

During the crisis, PIP service advisors have been available to receive calls and offer support and reassurance to people who are struggling with both practical and emotional concerns. The importance of hearing a friendly voice at the end of the line and just being able to freely give people some time and consideration to discuss their fears and worries continues to be our daily response to older Oldham residents and their loved ones during the COVID crisis.

Councillor Zahid Chauhan, Oldham Council Cabinet member for health and social care, said: “The PIP Service has done excellent work over the Coronavirus pandemic and aims to improve the quality of life for people over 50 by supporting them to access services in their community.

“As a team, they work hard to enable older and often vulnerable people to engage with services and to exercise choice and control in their lives.

“Their work helps to reduce demand on GPs for non-medical appointment for those patients who are experiencing loneliness, social isolation and/or struggling in some way following a life changing event such as bereavement, retirement, caring responsibilities etc.

“I would like to thank all those hard-working team members for the work they do to support our elderly residents and their families.”