Every Gisborne resident over 65 years old will be contacted to ensure they are coping with the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown restrictions, in a mammoth effort by Gisborne District Council.
Operation Manaaki will ensure the elderly of Tairawhiti are cared for and connected during the lockdown.
Calls started yesterday to the 7000 people in the region who are over 65.
Single people over 70 were the first to be called, followed by couples over 70 and then the 65-plusses.
Council chief executive Nedine Thatcher Swann says she is extremely proud her team are stepping in to help some of the region's most vulnerable people.
“These are our grandparents and parents and we need to make sure they can be well cared for during this time,” she said. “This is absolutely the right thing for us to do.”
Group controller Dave Wilson says some people may well be called multiple times by different organisations from across Tairawhiti.
“We care and would rather someone received a couple of calls than none at all.
“We want to make sure older New Zealanders have all the essentials they need to get through this difficult period with Covid-19 and that they know where to go if they need some help.”
Any identified issues will be coordinated and addressed through the council's Emergency Co-ordination Centre and the appropriate assistance given.
Those making the calls are all council employees and will ask a few questions around wellbeing, how people are coping and whether they have support.
“Council staff will not be asking for private information at all, more around what assistance people require to get through,” says Ms Thatcher Swann.
The Ministry of Health website says evidence from other countries suggests that older people and vulnerable people (those who are immune-compromised or have pre-existing conditions like heart conditions and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)) are more at risk from Covid-19.