Grandpal's COVID-19 Guide for you and your older loved ones

Hello Grandpal Community and friends,

Like the rest of the world, we are listening and learning as this situation develops across the globe.

There's currently a lot of information out there and it can be overwhelming. We feel that the most responsible and helpful position for Grandpal to take is to share our expertise and learnings in the space of elderly care in this new phase of social distancing and prevention of disease spread.

At the moment our advice is to avoid in-person visits in order to minimise unnecessary contact with such a vulnerable age-group. We are working with advisors in the healthcare space on this so everything is as clear and helpful as possible. Please read our recommendations below and feel free to reach out to us on if you have any questions or concerns.

Some background: What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is an illness caused by a virus that is spread between people. It affects the lungs and can cause pneumonia. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a new virus that crossed from animals to people in November of 2019 and because of this there is no immunity, no vaccine and currently no specific treatment available to help those who are sick.

The majority of people who get sick will experience a mild to moderate illness which could feel similar to having a bad case of flu. A smaller number of people will need much more medical care to help them through this illness. Because the virus spreads so easily, we know that a huge number of people will be sick all at once and this will create problems with our health service's capacities and hospitals therefore being unable to provide this medical care to everyone who might need it.

Why should older people be especially concerned?

People over the age of 60 and those with pre-existing medical problems experience the worst symptoms and are more likely to need lots of medical support. Unfortunately, a significant proportion of this group may not be able to recover - this outcome is avoidable and we can all do our part to save lives.

A note for Grandparents in their 60s and 70s: We would ask that as families, you discuss and are aware of the fact that children in particular are carrying the virus without showing symptoms and can pass it onto to adults or older people very easily. Therefore we strongly recommend that the safest course of action for this next while includes avoiding visits with grandchildren and similar. This absolutely includes being involved in any childminding responsibilities, which we appreciate is complicated at the moment.

What steps should we be taking to support older people?

Be proactive about what they're going to need everyday help with:

  • Collect and share local phone numbers with them so they know they're not alone.
  • If they're able, talk them through installing some digital tools such as Facebook Messenger, Zoom or WhatsApp.
  • Call them regularly and encourage them to call others eg. Why not reach out to old friends for a catch-up?
  • Talk through what's going on, both at a national and local level. Let them know that you and others are there for them at this complicated time.
  • Groceries: Can you either organise or personally deliver messages and shopping to their doorstep
  • Picking up medicine and prescriptions from the pharmacy
  • Collecting/dropping off library books
  • Share messages, videos, poems, stories, drawings, as well as book and film recommendations, digitally. Consider sharing a box-set of DVDs on a rotation.
  • For family members: Collect your older relatives' pension for them or help them to get it paid directly to bank account instead of collecting in person
  • Arrange for milk man to bring milk
  • Offer to deliver a newspaper
  • Mobile phone top-ups

What steps should we be taking to protect older people?

  • Absolutely no physical contact between helpers and older persons, try to maintain two-metre distance in person (we should all be doing this to avoid transmitting the virus but especially with older people - keep a distance of 2 metres (6.5 feet) between you and others.)
  • If you must be in close proximity, adhere to all the HSE and WHO instructions such as
  • Wash your hands properly and often.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze.
  • Prevent children from coming into contact with older people.
  • Put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as door handles, light switches and hand rails.
  • Avoid crowded places, especially indoors.
  • Follow the travel advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

What is social distancing?

Social distancing is important to help slow the spread of coronavirus. It does this by minimising contact between potentially infected individuals and healthy individuals.

Social distancing is keeping a space of 2 metres (6.5 feet) between you and other people. Do not shake hands or make close contact if possible.

Older people should not attend day centres, social groups, pubs/restaurants or spend undue amounts of time in public places like Doctors waiting rooms.

Tips for keeping busy whilst social distancing

Unfortunately it seems as if the requirement to practice social distancing will go on for a significant period of time. Defeating COVID-19 is a marathon, not a sprint. So we need to think and plan for how we can make this period of time easier on ourselves and older people so that everyone can stick to it.

It's important to keep to normal routines as regards getting up, getting washed and dressed, meal times and bed times.

Use the time to do activities that you like but maybe didn't have time to do in the past

  • Catch up on reading favourite books
  • Keep your mind sharp by doing crosswords or puzzles
  • Stay up to date with news, but don't obsessively watch stories about the public health emergency as it could cause increased stress and worry.
  • Do a little spring cleaning around the house
  • Stay in touch with grandchildren or younger relatives by phone or using social media
  • Video chat has been shown to be much more effective at reducing feelings of isolation

What should I do if I am unwell?

  • Needless to say do not engage in any of the above suggestions if you have symptoms of a cough or cold. Please stay at home if you are sick to help stop the spread of whatever infection you may have.
  • If you have cold or flu like symptoms such as a cough or fever - phone your GP or out of hours Doctor service (do not attend at a GP surgery) and they will advise you what action to take.
  • Testing for COVID-19 can only be requested by your GP in consultation with the Department of Public Health so don't turn up at a GP surgery, Emergency Department or Hospital expecting to be tested. Testing is carried out at home during a scheduled visit by a HSE Paramedic.
  • If you are concerned that you or an older person may have COVID-19, call HSELive on 1850 24 1850 for more advice.
  • Communicate your concerns or plans around the care for this older loved one with a trusted family or community member. People are there and willing to help in this time of need.

What additional supports are available?

For practical and up to date advice on managing your health during COVID-19 crisis in Ireland visit  

Department of Social Protection
For help and support around pensions, benefits and social welfare queries in Ireland

Government of Ireland
Resources on government guidelines for managing during COVID-19 outbreak

For more detailed information on COVID-19 visit

ALONE Ireland
have stepped up and set up a phone-in support line as part of their nationwide collaborative effort to provide advice and links to information for anyone in need of reassurance. You can reach them on 0818 222 024.

Stay safe and stay smart


The Grandpal Team

Some additional resources below

An Astronaut's Guide to Self Isolation

Wash your hands for 20 seconds!

Bringing families together

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