By Bill Heaney
Less than five per cent of Scots over the age of 65 are living at home with no internet access – and many of them are wondering if they can still get priority supermarket delivery slots to have their messages delivered to their home.
MSP Rachael Hamilton raised the matter in the Scottish Parliament this week.
She said: “We know the toll that the virus has taken. It has taken a substantial toll on the older population in Scotland and the mental and physical health impacts have been well documented. “
Christina McKelvie, the MInister for Older Persons, confirmed earlier that the Scottish National Party’s connecting Scotland programme targets just 5,000 older and disabled people.
Rachael Hamilton pointed out however: “Considering that the Scottish Government’s own household survey in 2019 showed that there were about 123,000 over-65s living with no home internet, will the Scottish Government commit now to increasing the number of older and disabled people supported by that programme, and can the minister confirm whether work on the Government’s connected Scotland strategy, which was paused in the spring, has now restarted?”
Ms McKelvie replied: “It is not just 5,000 people who are supported by the connecting Scotland programme; it is 5,000 older people, but the programme involves 9,000 individuals who are at high clinical risk from Covid-19, including older people.
“The programme is expanding and developing all the time, and it involves a lot more than 5,000 people.
“We paused the work on the details of the strategy, but we did not pause the work of delivering on it.
“The national implementation group involves key partners in all the actions that we are taking to ensure that anybody who is socially isolated and lonely gets the support that they need. That is why the funding is being delivered through those key partners.”
Bill KIdd MSP asked about shielding. He said: “Can the minister confirm that an older person who is on the shielding list can sign up for priority access to online supermarket delivery slots, as was the case in the first lockdown?”
Ms McKelviie said: “Yes. We have offered everyone on the shielding list access to priority online supermarket delivery slots, and that offer remains open so, again, it would be good if members could share that.
“In December, we sent everyone on the shielding list the booklet that I spoke about entitled “Balancing the risks of daily activities during coronavirus”, which has additional advice on how to sign up for priority online supermarket delivery slots.
“The chief medical officer’s letter of 5 January also reminded everyone about signing up for that. Those communications provided advice on contacting the national helpline for anyone who needs to sign up. Again, I appeal to members to get that message out to their constituents.”