THE work of the National Council for Senior Citizens (NCSC) — the umbrella organisation which provides support to senior citizens — was enhanced by a contribution of $1 million, thanks to Jamaica National Group.

The donation was made through the company’s recently announced Member Welfare Fund, which is to support Jamaicans in their response to the effects of COVID-19.

Cassandra Morrison, executive director of the NCSC who was a guest on the JN Circle Catch Up virtual series on May 14, said that the funds will be used to provide care packages to its members.

“We will be able to provide approximately 300 persons with food and hygiene packages. Therefore, this donation will go a long way to make life a little easier for some of our senior citizens,” she related.

Claudine Allen, member ombudsman of Jamaica National Group and team lead for the JN Circle, said Jamaica National Group was happy to make a donation to the council.

“Our senior citizens are one of the most vulnerable groups being directly affected by COVID-19. Hence, the group decided that it was fitting to make this donation to the organisation to assist its members,” Allen said.

Morrison stated that NCSC members, who are 65 years and older, are challenged based on being confined at home – which has become a new normal for them since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis locally.

She noted that, for the most part, individuals have been complying with the stay-at-home order. However, not all seniors understand the gravity of the virus.

“Some seniors are yet to fully comprehend why some of the restrictions are necessary, and why they themselves are at risk. Many seniors, particularly those in rural areas, are very independent. The threat and risk of COVID-19 is not something you can see, because it is not so tangible. And, fortunately, we are not seeing images of persons collapsing in the streets, such as what happens overseas. Consequently, it is yet to come home for some seniors,” she explained.

The executive director stated that the NCSC continues to work with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to craft messages that seniors can understand, and they work with the volunteers, on the ground, to pass on these relevant messages.

She also pointed out that the National Health Fund has been in communities providing support in filling prescriptions for seniors, and that corporate entities such as supermarkets have been delivering food items. Additionally, the council also works with volunteers who make telephone calls to seniors to check up on them.

“One of the main things that we would like Jamaicans to do is to protect the elderly and urge them to comply with the rules laid out by the Ministry of Health and Wellness [for them] to stay at home. We don’t want to look back post-COVID-19 and discover that we lost a generation of elderly citizens because we were careless,” she said.