Since I took up post as Commissioner in 2012, I have met and spoken with thousands of older people who have generously shared so much with me – about their lives, their experiences, their hopes and wishes for the future.
This year, as in previous years, these voices and experiences have continued to guide and shape my work as Commissioner and have been a constant and important reminder of why it’s just so important that we get things right for older people.
Because when we get things right for older people – when help and support is tailored to their needs, is focused on outcomes and, most importantly, listens to and acts upon their voices – they can remain healthy and independent and have the best possible quality of life, things that all of us will want as we get older.
There is much good work and good practice underway across Wales to improve older people’s lives, something that I highlight and promote whenever possible – it’s just so important that this good practice becomes our standard practice in Wales.
But much more still needs to be done to recognise older people as the vital asset that they are to Wales, to uphold their rights, to protect them from harm, to deliver the changes they want and need to see, and to make the aspiration that underpins much of our policy and legislation in Wales a reality in older people’s day-to-day lives.
Many of the issues faced by older people that I have highlighted and reported on as Commissioner have developed over considerable periods of time and there is, unfortunately, no quick fix to resolve them. That is why follow-up work and ongoing monitoring and scrutiny of policy and practice is so important – it is vital that, in a landscape of competing priorities and challenges, the promises made by public bodies to take action and deliver change are not forgotten, that reports are not allowed to simply sit on a shelf gathering dust.
This has been the focus of much of my work during the past year, which has included extensive follow-up work linked to my 2014 Care Home Review, assessing whether the ambition of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act is being made real in terms of safeguarding older people and advocacy, and building upon the findings of my ‘Dementia: More Than Just Memory Loss’ report and looking in more detail at respite services in Wales.
In addition to this, I have undertaken extensive further work to ensure that older people are safeguarded and protected, raising awareness amongst professionals, through seminars and published guidance, about the scale and nature of abuse faced by older people, how abuse can be identified and how it can be tackled.
The Ageing Well in Wales programme, which I established and is hosted by my office, has grown considerably during the past year: over 70 national partners and over 1,600 Ageing Well Network members are now delivering a wide range of work at both a strategic and community level against the five key Ageing Well themes – Age friendly communities, dementia supportive communities, falls prevention, loneliness and isolation, and opportunities for learning and employment. I also published a series of Ageing Well Stories, to not only celebrate the outstanding work being delivered by Ageing Well Network Members, but to also encourage others to take action in their own communities and establish their own initiatives to help older people across Wales to Age Well.
Further information about Ageing Well in Wales, and its work and achievements, is available in a more detailed Ageing Well in Wales report that will be published alongside this report.
I am also publishing a legacy report – ‘Driving Change for Older People: Impact and Reach 2012-18’ – alongside this report, which details the wide range of work I have undertaken to drive change for older people across Wales during my term as Commissioner.
It has been a real privilege to have been the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales over the past six years, a time in which there has been much positive change for older people. I would like to thank my team, the stakeholders I have worked with and, most importantly, older people across Wales who have supported me and my work to make Wales a good place to grow older, not just for some but for everyone.
Click here to download Impact and Reach 2017-18