The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales has called for human rights to be the foundation of the forthcoming Covid-19 Inquiry to ensure key issues that affected older people during the pandemic are properly examined, so that lessons can be learnt and improvements delivered.
The Commissioner’s response to the recently published draft Terms of Reference also sets out the need for the Inquiry to examine the disproportionate impact the pandemic and social restrictions have had on older people, as well as specific issues such as the use of Do Not Attempt CPR (DNACPR) notices, and whether age discrimination affected older people’s access to treatment and services.
The Commissioner says a key priority must be enabling and supporting older people to share their experiences, including people who have lost loved ones and people living in care homes and that the Inquiry must reach out directly to older people throughout Wales to ensure their voices are heard and their evidence can inform the panel’s findings and recommendations.
Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE, said:
“Whilst the draft Terms of Reference are generally comprehensive, it’s crucial that the Inquiry has a greater focus on human rights to ensure there is proper scrutiny of the decisions made and action taken in response to the pandemic, and the ways these affected older people.
“Throughout the pandemic we have seen examples where older people’s rights appear to have not been sufficiently protected – such as the use of DNACPR and in access to treatment and services – and the Inquiry must be equipped to examine these issues in detail given the significant and disproportionate impact the pandemic and social restrictions have had on older people.
“Older people must be enabled and supported to share their experiences and provide important evidence to ensure that lessons are learnt and that improvements are quickly delivered, so the Inquiry must reach out directly to older people throughout Wales to ensure their voices are heard.
“To support this, there needs to be Welsh representation on the Inquiry Panel to ensure that the political, cultural and legislative distinctiveness of Wales is properly understood and built into plans for taking forward evidence gathering from individuals and organisations, which must include evidence sessions held here in Wales.
“I welcome the commitment within the Terms of Reference to publishing interim findings, which will be important to provide much-needed answers and help deliver change and improvements as we recover and heal as a nation.”