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Risk communication and community engagement

Name of documentReference to older peopleLast updated
Addressing violence against children, women and older people during the covid-19 pandemic: Key actions- 10x increase in abuse and neglect of older people in some settings
Why is violence in the home likely to increase during and after the COVID-19 pandemic?
- Stay-at-home measures may put older people living in abusive relationships at even greater risk of violence because of increased time spent with and exposure to their abusers
- Stressors including economic uncertainty, job losses and over-crowded settings, where physical distancing is not feasible, are likely to increase the perpetration of violence in the home
- Limited or no access to protective support networks – both informal (e.g. family, relatives, friends, neighbours, school teachers or support staff, colleagues) and formal (e.g. protection services, hotlines, social services, shelters) during mobility restriction/ lockdown may further contribute to the risk of increased violence 
- Perpetrators of intimate partner violence may use COVID-19-related concerns to exercise greater power and control over their victims, including limiting access to critical information and resources, and monitoring communication (e.g. telephones, mobile/sim cards, internet), thus making it difficult to contact support services, and access health services
- Confinement can result in increased consumption of alcohol and other substances, which is associated with the perpetration of violence
Who will be at higher risk of violence during confinement?
- Mobility issues can limit opportunities to seek help.
- Face barriers to accessing trustworthy information using newer technologies, including the internet.
- May be encouraged or forced to stay in quarantine much longer, because of their higher risk of infection, which may prolong social isolation, increase abuse, and reduce opportunities to seek help
- Physical dependence on other household members (e.g. for food, getting dressed, using the bathroom).
- COVID-19 has led to staff reductions in long-term care facilities, due to illness or self-isolation (staff), and the suspension of family visits, increasing the isolation of residents and the already high risk of violence and neglect.
What can be done to address violence in the home during the COVID-19 response?
[recommendations to government and policy-makers, programme managers, facility managers and health care providers]
18 Jun 2020
Gender and COVID-19No specific reference to older people14 May 2020
COVID-19 message libraryMessages for/about older people:
- Older people are valued and valuable members of our families and communities. But they are at higher risk of the more serious complications of COVID-19.
- Older people need to keep in contact with family, friends and neighbours and ask for help with shopping, or picking up medicines or other necessities if needed.
- Older people should keep the house stocked with at least two weeks of essential food and supplies, including prescription medicine.
- Older people can keep healthy by establishing a routine to keep active and positive. This may include online courses, physical activities, and reading.
28 Apr 2020
Working with Community Advisory Boards for COVID-19 related clinical studiesDepending on the study and context, several types of CAB/Gs may be needed, together with wider stakeholder engagement, including:
- CAB/Gs composed of relatively well known, confident, prominent and outspoken leaders speaking on behalf of their communities, such as religious elders, local chiefs or elders, or leaders of women’s groups and other community-based or nongovernmental organisations. For studies involving health workers, representatives may be team leaders or managers. These members are usually confident to voice their views and opinion, and their involvement may be reassuring to members of their communities.
- CAB/Gs made up of members more typical of their communities (such as representatives of an age group, illness, or a type of health worker), who potentially have better awareness of everyday issues and concerns than more outspoken leaders.
- CAB/Gs – perhaps differently constituted and organized – made up of relatively vulnerable and marginalized groups in relation to the research in that particular context (e.g. the elderly, people with disabilities, or out-of-school youths), who would otherwise find it difficult to voice their views and be heard.
23 Apr 2020
COVID-19 and violence against womenViolence against women tends to increase during every type of emergency, including epidemics. Older women and women with disabilities are likely to have additional risks and needs. Women who are displaced, refugees, and living in conflict-affected areas are particularly vulnerable.7 Apr 2020
Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreakMessages for older adults, people with underlying health conditions and their carers
- Older adults, especially in isolation and those with cognitive decline/dementia, may become more anxious, angry, stressed, agitated and withdrawn during the outbreak or while in quarantine. Provide practical and emotional support through informal networks (families) and health professionals.
- Share simple facts about what is going on and give clear information about how to reduce risk of infection in words older people with/without cognitive impairment can understand. Repeat the information whenever necessary. Instructions need to be communicated in a clear, concise, respectful and patient way. It may also be helpful for information to be displayed in writing or pictures. Engage family members and other support networks in providing information and helping people to practise prevention measures (e.g. handwashing, etc.).
- If you have an underlying health condition, make sure to have access to any medications that you are currently using. Activate your social contacts to provide you with assistance, if needed.
- Be prepared and know in advance where and how to get practical help if needed, like calling a taxi, having food delivered and requesting medical care. Make sure you have up to two weeks of all your regular medicines that you may require.
- Learn simple daily physical exercises to perform at home, in quarantine or isolation so you can maintain mobility and reduce boredom.
- Keep regular routines and schedules as much as possible or help create new ones in a new environment, including regular exercising, cleaning, daily chores, singing, painting or other activities. Keep in regular contact with loved ones (e.g. via telephone, e-mail, social media or video conference).
Messages for people in isolation
- Stay connected and maintain your social networks. Try as much as possible to keep your personal daily routines or create new routines if circumstances change. If health authorities have recommended limiting your physical social contact to contain the outbreak, you can stay connected via telephone, e-mail, social media or video conference.
- During times of stress, pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly, keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy food. Keep things in perspective. Public health agencies and experts in all countries are working on the outbreak to ensure the availability of the best care to those affected
- A near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel anxious or distressed. Seek information updates and practical guidance at specific times during the day from health professionals and WHO website and avoid listening to or following rumours that make you feel uncomfortable.
18 Mar 2020
Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) Action Plan Guidance COVID-19 Preparedness and ResponseThe process
- Identify key audiences and influencers Identify target audiences and key influencers. These include policy-makers, influential bloggers or other social media leaders, local leaders, women and youth groups, religious and elders’ groups, local and international NGOs health experts and practitioners, volunteers, and people who have real-life experience with COVID-19 (those who have had COVID-19 or their family members have contracted the virus). Match audiences and influencers with channels and partners that reach them.
Defining and prioritising your RCCE audiences and other stakeholders
- Add categories for key audiences, partners, and stakeholders who are important to your country that may not be included in the list below.
- All people at-risk of acquiring COVID-19, for example: elderly, people with underlying health conditions, health care workers, travellers, etc.
16 Mar 2020
A guide to preventing and addressing social stigma associated with COVID-19No specific reference to older people24 Feb 2020
The COVID-19 risk communication package for healthcare facilitiesNo specific reference to older people
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