Liam Toland has spoken on Wednesday Night Rugby about the importance of home care for our elderly, especially in the wake of the ongoing pandemic.
The former Leinster and Munster player joined Nathan, where he discussed his work away from the oval ball.
"I'm a retired army officer, so in a sense I'm an old-age pensioner! Twelve years ago I handed in my sword and opened up a franchise business called Home Instead Senior Care.
"So parents or grandparents who want to stay at home and are vulnerable for some reason - we've got caregivers who go into their home... sometimes it's one visit a week, sometimes it's two or three a day.
"That allows that person or couple or family to remain living at home much longer than they may have felt. It also helps the families... in modern Ireland we've got an awful lot of people who are just that bit far away from Mum and Dad.
"Now with Covid-19, there's never been a more important time to be involved in home care in some shape or form. It's really really challenging... we've been working together [with the HSE] pretty much daily."
Toland acknowledged that the outbreak of the virus in Ireland had originally left him unsure about how the role of his business would change.
"We were being led immediately by the public health messaging. I won't lie - at times I was overwhelmed by the amount of memos and information, and the two-metre distance... the face masks versus no face masks. It was overwhelming.
"For me, that was one of the greatest challenges, was trying to understand... Okay at the end of our chain is an 82-year-old lady who is living alone and desperately needs our visit. How can we ensure the caregiver going into that home is protecting themselves intially, but also protecting the vulnerable?
"In the beginning it was the old army adage, 'Hurry up and wait', there was this tsunami coming our way."
Toland said one positive to take from all this is that more people will now understand and have empthy for those who are carers in their family.
"It's not easy being a carer, it's not easy if you're a loved one going into your Mum or Dad with dementia. In that sense it's been good, many more family members are seeing that, really seeing that.
"Some relish that, and others are eager to get back to their normal way of life. My parents - my Dad is 85 and my Mum is 83, they are in the category we're talking about.
"I've a 30,000-word thesis on this, so I won't burden you with it all! Successful ageing is linked to engagement in life. Engagement is watching sport, playing cards, going for a walk, pruning your rose plant, whatever it is you do that engages you.
"The great threat of Covid... it has limited our older adults' ability to stay engaged. My parents played bridge three days a week, that's finished.
"That ability to have that casual conversation once or twice a day is gone. Their way of living has changed dramatically... they've lost that little bit of independence. It's really important in the aftermath of all this that we encourage, in an appropriate way, all those people back out to re-engage."
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