Public Safety Agencies Remind Seniors
that Wellness Checks are Safe During COVID-19
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[September 23, 2020]
Older Illinoisans are among those most at risk
for health complications related to COVID-19. The state’s posture to
increase safety, both of our residents and our first responders, has
visually changed the landscape of our state. The Illinois Department
of Public Health (IDPH), along with partners from Illinois
Department on Aging (IDoA), Office of the Illinois State Fire
Marshal (OSFM), Illinois State Police (ISP) and the Illinois
Sheriffs’ Association want to remind residents of the following
safety measure put in place in light of COVID-19.
Police, fire and EMS personnel conducting
requested wellness checks on seniors, the disabled or any other
resident will be dressed in proper personal protective equipment
that has been deemed appropriate by their local jurisdiction. This
change in appearance is a safety precaution. The personal protective
equipment is designed to protect the resident and our first
responders. It’s also important to keep in mind that all first
responders should be able to present proper identification.
“Seniors should not feel anxious about answering the door as proper
precautions are being taken by first responders to ensure the safety
of residents and themselves. If someone still feels unsafe opening
the door, they can communicate through a glass door or window to let
the responders know they are well. Rest assured, the person may be
unrecognizable under all the protective gear, but is still the same
dedicated individual in uniform that is always in their community
protecting citizens,” said State Fire Marshal Matt Perez.
“I understand that it could be unnerving to open your door to
someone wearing a mask, goggles and gloves. Right now, Illinois
State Police wear these to protect not only ourselves, but the
public from the spread of COVID-19, especially to vulnerable
populations like seniors and the disabled. If we come to your home
to check on your welfare and you are nervous about answering the
door, call your local police department’s non-emergency number, wave
out the window or shout through the door. Just let us know you are
okay. Our uniforms may look different right now, but we are still
the Illinois State Police,” said Director Brendan F. Kelly.
“Members of the community should rest assured that your first
responders are still there to keep you safe. In fact, we may be
asked to come to check and make sure that you are ok,” said Jim
Kaitschuk, Executive Director of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association.
“However, if you aren’t immediately comfortable answering the door,
you should contact your non-emergency number for police to confirm.”
IDoA wants to let older Illinoisans and people
with disabilities know that it is common for people to feel
distressed during a crisis. Asking for and accepting help from
professionals - who are following all of the proper precautions and
guidelines to keep everyone safe - is a sign of strength.
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Many of these individuals live in the community and
depend on services and supports provided in their homes or in the
community to maintain their health and independence.
Although IDoA has temporarily suspended group services at adult day
centers and senior centers, we have increased our one-on-one in-home
services. The agency’s goal has been to prevent the spread of
COVID-19 among older adults, while also increasing the ability to
closely monitor their well-being. The agency has implemented
guidance and tools from IDPH so that both in-home workers and the
older adults they care for are safe when they do their work. The
agencies in IDoA network use this as part of any protocol where
face-to-face contact with an older and more vulnerable adult occurs.
“The stress on everybody is growing every day, and we want you to
know you are not alone. Plan for what you can, and focus on things
you can control,” said Paula Basta, Director of IDoA. “I encourage
everyone to be mindful of our older family members, friends, or
neighbors, and check in to see how they are doing. Find a creative
way to communicate with them during this time and monitor their
The IDoA website has many ideas and resources meant to help connect
people with family and loved ones to help lower distress and
feelings of social isolation. Visit www.illinois.gov/aging, click on
COVID-19 What You Need to Know to find the Be Socially Engaged While
Practicing Social Distancing link.
IDoA, its 13 Area Agencies on Aging, and 46 Care Coordination Units
are working around the clock to ensure that the services provided -
specifically the home delivered meals program that our seniors
depend on - will not be interrupted during this ongoing situation.
If you or an older family member, friend, or neighbor are in need of
any kind of assistance, please know we are here to help you. Please
visit our website at www.illinois.gov/aging or contact our Senior
HelpLine at 1-800-252-8966 (hearing impaired call 888-206-1327).
[Illinois Office of Communication and