I wanted to take a few minutes of your time to explain a bit about your local Age Concern Organization (ACO) as we’ve had a couple of difficult situations in the past few months that may have resulted, inappropriately, in some bad press for us despite our best efforts.
Our charter as an ACO is to provide help and assistance to the local English-speaking population, a service we do voluntarily and with all good intentions. There are restrictions, however, on what sort of help we may provide, usually related to problems that have developed to the point that it requires professional help. Additionally, we are a small ACO with only a few volunteers, all of whom have lives of their own taking up their time, so sometimes it is hard to find someone free, especially at short notice.
Most of the folks remaining full time in the Chiclana area have been here for quite a while and have a network of friends and neighbours. When they need help those people are there to lend a hand; that’s wonderful. However, when the individual needing help reaches a point that the friends, neighbours and even family find that they cannot provide what is needed they will often think of Age Concern and give us a call. Sometimes, at this point, the only help we can provide is advice on and assistance reaching professional help.
We have a large cache of information on the Spanish social security system and a list of providers of professional, medical support and/or near full time in-home assistance. We can provide assistance accessing this sort of help; however, once a professional is hired our role changes, i.e. the hired professional works for the individual who is paying them. If we can still provide the patient with assistance we will be happy to do so but issues between the client and their professional helper are between them. As our population ages we can expect to see more of this level of help needed.
We always prefer to receive calls from the individual who is seeking help or assistance. We’ve had a number of well-meaning calls on behalf of a friend or neighbour only to find out when we contacted the individual that they were not interested in our help. Sometimes the need doesn’t really exist and other times it’s just a matter of personal privacy – not wanting a stranger in their lives at that point. We fully understand that. We do however accept calls from third parties if the individual cannot call us and has requested them to call on their behalf. We will then contact the individual and see what we can do for them.
As you can discern from the above, we are not the people you should think of in an emergency, although once the emergency is under control we might be a good source of information and/or post-emergency support. We have a phone line which is monitored from 0900-1700 on weekdays and has a message service. We also have an email address which is monitored regularly. All of this information along with the services we DO provide are listed in the main text of this article
Lastly, as we are a very small group with only a few volunteers, we are always looking for more help to make us better able to meet the needs of the community. So, if you can spare a little time to help your neighbours and are willing to do so, give us a call. Every little bit helps.