Impacts of the initial 2020 COVID-19 lockdown on volunteers aged 70+ years at New Zealand Red Cross : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Emergency Management at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand

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Massey University
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In addition to widespread economic implications, and impacts on physical health globally, epidemics can significantly negatively impact on people’s mental health and sense of wellbeing. The current COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have disproportionately negative impacts on vulnerable communities by compounding pre-existing social and economic. To add to this body of knowledge, the research question for this study is “What were the experiences of New Zealand Red Cross’ Meals on Wheels Volunteers, during aged 70 years and older, the initial 2020 response to COVID-19?”. This question was addressed by conducting an online survey, which ultimately received 81 respondents from around the country. Thematic analysis was undertaken within NVivo, to identify four key themes. The analysis revealed there were several volunteer motivations for choosing to join MoW including wanting to give back to their community, to connect with others, with the level of connection to family and friends being of primary importance in order to feel socially connected. Participants based in Auckland reported being more conscientious about adhering to COVID-19 protocols, and the majority of respondents reported increased use of technology, such as Zoom and FaceTime. Following a disaster NZRC typically help with evacuations, deliver essential supplies such as food and water, and provide emotional and social support to people in their homes and in the community. The findings of the research suggest that additional commitment is needed by NZRC in considering options for social support and recovery assistance for older adults in the wake of a disaster is needed.