Commissioner welcomes action being taken to ensure older people can access information and services in an increasingly digital world
The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales has welcomed the action being taken in response to formal guidance she issued to local authorities and health boards at the end of last year, which highlighted the rights that older people have to access information and services, and set out the kinds of initiatives that need to be in place to ensure that older people can access what they need in an increasingly digital world.
The Commissioner’s summary report, which provides a snapshot of the action being taken, highlights the importance of building upon the good practice currently underway so that information and services remain available via non-digital means, and older people who want to get online are supported to do so.
The report is based on information shared by local authorities and health boards in response to the formal guidance issued by the Commissioner at the end of last year using her legal powers, which means they must have due regard for the guidance when discharging their functions. The information provided includes details of work already being delivered, as well plans for the future, including the ways in which the voices and experiences of older people will be used to shape the development and delivery of services and support.
Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE, said:
“Around a third of people over the age of 75 in Wales do not have access to or use the internet, but in recent years the use of digital technology across our public services has accelerated significantly, creating barriers for older people who are digitally excluded.
“That’s why I used my legal powers to issue formal guidance to ensure that older people can access non-digital information and services, and that there is more support available to help older people to get online.
“The responses from local authorities and health boards, summarised in the report I have published today, indicate that a variety of work and projects are underway in different parts of Wales to provide information and services via non-digital means, and tackle digital exclusion amongst older people.
“It’s crucial, however, that we continue to build on what’s already in place so that older people can access the help and support they may need, in a way that suits them.
“I have provided individual feedback in writing to each local authority and health board to support further improvements, and I will continue to share and promote good practice that is making a positive difference.
“I will also be undertaking further engagement with older people throughout Wales, which will help me to monitor the impact that the kinds of initiatives highlighted within the responses are having, and check that older people’s experiences ‘on the ground’ reflect the policies that should be in place.”
In addition to monitoring the action being delivered in response to her guidance, the Commissioner is also continuing to reach out to older people throughout Wales to raise awareness about the rights they have to access information and services in a way that suits them.
The Commissioner added:
“Alongside my guidance last year, I also published a useful information leaflet for older people, to help them to understand the rights they have to access information and services, and what they can do if they’re struggling to get what they need.
“Over 10,000 copies have been distributed to date, and I will be continuing to raise awareness of older people’s rights as part of my ongoing engagement with older people throughout Wales.”
ENDSRead the Commissioner's Summary Report