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Commissioner’s priorities for 2021-22

in News

In April 2019, the Commissioner published her strategy for 2019-22 – Making Wales the best place in the world to grow older – and set out her three priorities: Ending Ageism and Age Discrimination; Stopping the Abuse of Older People; and Enabling Everyone to Age Well. These priorities were underpinned by commitments to empower older people to understand and exercise their legal rights to make their voices heard.

The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a light on many pre-existing inequalities and injustices faced by older people and has demonstrated how older people’s rights may not be as secure as had been assumed. In response to this, the Commissioner has identified Protecting and Promoting Older People’s Rights as one of her key priorities for 2021-22, alongside the three published in her 2019-22 Strategy.

By focusing on these four key priorities, the Commissioner will be taking forward an extensive programme of work in 2021-22 to ensure that older people are protected as the Covid-19 pandemic continues and are supported and enabled to recover from the pandemic and continue to contribute towards our communities.

The Commissioner will continue to engage directly with older people from communities throughout Wales to ensure that their voices, insight and experiences guide her work.

Protecting and Promoting older people’s rights 

The need to protect and promote older people’s rights has become even more important as we have seen during the Covid-19 pandemic how easily these rights can be bypassed or ignored. The Commissioner will be continuing to take action to raise awareness amongst public bodies of older people’s existing legal rights, to inform older people about their rights, and to extend and strengthen older people’s rights where necessary. 

The Commissioner will also continue to provide information, advice and assistance directly to older people to empower them to understand and exercise their legal rights and the Commissioner will intervene if these rights are being ignored or disregarded by public bodies. 

The Commissioner will be: 

  • Taking action with partners in Wales and across the UK to improve the rights of older people living in care homes
  • Addressing the evidence gap on the specific issues faced by older people in Black Asian and Minority Ethnic communities by carrying out research and making recommendations for action
  • Exploring how the process and practice of Advance Care Planning could be improved so older people feel fully involved in decisions about their future healthcare needs, and have their wishes recognised and respected 
  • Continuing work with the UK network of key partner organisations the Commissioner established in 2020 to ensure that older people’s rights are protected and promoted, and collectively drive change

Stopping the abuse of older people

Stopping the abuse of older people has remained a key priority for the Commissioner throughout the pandemic, particularly as there were significant concerns about the greater risk to older people of abuse or neglect, or of being targeted by criminals, due to lockdown. In response to this, the Commissioner established an Action Group of organisations who are working together to ensure that older people can get the support they need to keep them safe and protected from abuse and crime. 

The Commissioner has led a range of work with key public bodies and stakeholders throughout Wales to ensure that older people who are experiencing, or at risk of, abuse, can get the support they need, which are outlined in the Abuse Action Group’s strategy to end the abuse of older people

This has led to significant progress in a number of areas, including a commitment from the Welsh Government to deliver a new National Action Plan to prevent the abuse of older people, as well as opportunities to build on new partnerships and initiatives to drive further change for older people by raising awareness of older people’s experiences of abuse, providing more information to older people about how they can get support, and highlighting the gaps that exist in support services for older people experiencing, or at risk of, abuse.

The Commissioner will be:

  • Improving support services for older people experiencing or at risk of abuse, and raising awareness amongst professionals, including training for public bodies
  • Leading partnership work with the Stopping Abuse Action Group, including:
    • Influencing the Welsh Government National Action Plan to prevent the abuse of older people
    • Work to empower and enable older people to share their experiences
    • Research into the experiences of older men at risk of or experiencing abuse
    • Developing work on older people living with dementia and their carers affected by abuse

Enabling Everyone to Age Well

Given the particular ways that the pandemic has affected older people and the community resources and services that are often a lifeline to them, there will need to be a significant focus on enabling people to age well and on making our communities more age-friendly, which will be crucial to build confidence amongst older people to re-engage with society, and to support reablement and rehabilitation. 

The response to the pandemic in Wales, particularly at a local level, has shown that there are strong foundations to build upon. We must now ensure that the policies and changes made as we move towards recovery will result in practical improvements in older people’s lives.

The Commissioner will be:

  • Working with partners to ensure older people have support to rebuild or regain their health and well-being, as we transition through the pandemic
  • Leading work with partners throughout Wales to make communities more age-friendly, including supporting local authorities to apply for World Health Organisation recognition for age-friendly communities
  • Championing digital inclusion amongst older people, promoting good practice and issuing guidance to public bodies to ensure older people who are not online can access the information and support they may need

Ending Ageism and Age Discrimination

The issues we have seen during the pandemic relating to how older people have been treated and spoken about reflect a society where ageism is still common, and the Commissioner’s work over the last year to protect and promote older people’s rights, together with her calls for action and change across a range of issues, have been crucial in helping to ensure that older people are not discriminated against because of their age.

Ageism and age discrimination often underpin many of the issues faced by older people and have a wide range of negative impacts on older people, affecting their physical and mental health, recovery from illness, levels of social exclusion and even life expectancy.

Increasing awareness amongst the public and professionals of the impact that ageism and age discrimination has on older people will be a key part of ensuring that our recovery from Covid-19 strengthens older people’s rights and celebrates the contributions that older people make to our communities throughout Wales.

The Commissioner will be:

  • Providing training for older people and professionals to empower them to recognise and challenge ageism
  • Challenging examples of ageism and age discrimination, including the way older people are portrayed in the media
  • Working with partners – including international partners – to tackle ageist attitudes in society and promote solidarity between generations

Download Commissioner’s priorities for 2021-22 (PDF)

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