Written Answers. - Help Line for the Elderly.

Emmet Stagg

Question:

550 Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Health and Children the plans, if any, he has to introduce a help line for senior citizens with a freephone number in view of the fact that 1999 is International Year for Older People; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1471/99]

A national help line operated by older volunteers for older people has already been established by Summerhill Active Retirement Group (County Meath), with support from the North-Eastern Health Board, Trim Initiative for Development and Enterprise and the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs. The service is confidential and available for the price of a local call from anywhere in the country. It aims to provide telephone support for isolated and lonely older people who need a listening ear. Advice on health and social welfare entitlements is available to older persons from all offices of both the health boards and the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs.