New poll shows only 30% older adults can identify correct advice for over-70s

Easington MP Grahame Morris is backing older people’s charity Independent Age’s call for an urgent rethink of how the Government delivers coronavirus guidance, with new polling suggesting that thousands of over-70s could be self-isolating unnecessarily.

An Independent Age poll of UK adults over 65, carried out by Opinium, found that 43% of people incorrectly believed that the government had instructed over-70s without any underlying health conditions to shield themselves by not leaving the house.

In fact, UK government guidance for this group is to practice social distancing and “take particular care” in doing so. Less than one-third of respondents (30%) correctly identified this guidance for otherwise healthy over-70s.

The results suggests that thousands of older people around the UK, including in East Durham, may have completely shielded themselves and lived in isolation since late March, when they could have left the house for socially distanced exercise and shopping for essentials.

The polling also found that 28% of respondents – well over a quarter – found the guidance for over-70s unclear or very unclear.

Ahead of an expected easing of lockdown restrictions next week, Grahame Morris MP is supporting Independent Age’s call for the government to introduce targeted messages and broadcast advertising to the clinically vulnerable group – including healthy over-70s – and clarifying what is meant by ‘particular care’, using real life examples.

The charity is also asking the government to clarify that not everyone aged over 70 is classed as extremely clinically vulnerable and needing to shield themselves.

Grahame Morris MP said:

“Older people in East Durham have been putting in a remarkable effort over the past two months to keep themselves and their communities safe.

“But these efforts have been made more difficult by the confusion over some areas of the government’s advice. This new polling from Independent Age suggests that some people have been locked down even more strictly than they should have been, simply because the guidance has not been clear enough.

“The government must commit to urgently clarifying its advice to over-70s, and rethink the way they are getting this messaging out.”

Deborah Alsina MBE, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said:

“We have very real concerns that many people aged over 70 have shielded unnecessarily during the lockdown, instead of being able to, with caution, leave the house for essentials and exercise.

“Independent Age is asking the government to introduce targeted messages to the clinically vulnerable group – including over-70s without underlying health conditions – including clarifying what is meant by ‘particular care’, using real world examples.

“We want to see the government urgently clarify its messages to this age group, as well as working with voluntary organisations to empower older people to understand their risk from COVID-19 and learn how to manage it. This could include working with organisations like ours to inform and test messages.”

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