The Commissioner will play a vital role in ensuring that public services, at all levels, are able to provide the best possible service to all older people, helping them to live as full a life as possible and ensuring that they are engaged as active citizens in society.
The post is believed to be the first of its kind in the world and the successful applicant is expected to be in place by the end of the year.
Deputy Health and Social Services Minister Gwenda Thomas said the Commissioner would ensure that the interests of older people in Wales, who are aged 60 or more, are safeguarded and promoted:
The Commissioner, as an ambassador and authority on older people’s issues, will speak up on behalf of older people and help them to resolve problems when things go wrong.
Demographics are changing and by 2026 approximately 29 per cent of people in Wales will be over 60 years old. This appointment will mean that older people are put at the centre of all policy making.
I am delighted that Wales is leading the way and setting an example for others to follow. Wales was the first to appoint a Children's Commissioner to give children and young people a stronger voice and now we are the first to have a Commissioner to champion the interests of older people.
Wales is widely recognised as a world-leader in giving older people a greater say in developing services. This unique Commissioner will further cement Wales' reputation.
The role will be supported by statutory powers and enable the Commissioner to:
- review the impact of public services on older people and where things go wrong examine the reasons and the remedies;
- help to ensure that all older people are treated with dignity and respect and as individuals whose huge contribution to society is properly valued; and,
- act as a source of information, advocacy and support for older people.
The Chairman of Age Concern Cymru, Mr Mike Talbot, said:
We have campaigned long and hard to have such a Commissioner to provide much needed attention on the needs and rights of older people in Wales.
An effective Commissioner will help older people achieve basic human rights such as freedom from discrimination, equal access to health and social services, and protection from the various forms of abuse.
We want the new Commissioner to create an environment whereby older people themselves can influence the way in which important public and private services are managed and delivered in Wales.
- The appointment of the Commissioner for Older People will follow the normal procedures for Public Appointments. Once appointed the Commissioner will be independent of Government.
- The Welsh Assembly Government proposed in 2003 to introduce an Older Person's Commissioner in Wales to help improve the quality of life for older people.
- An Advisory Group of key stakeholders was established in Summer 2003, reporting to Ministers in March 2004.
- Public consultation was undertaken on the Advisory Group's recommendations until 30th September 2004.
- Primary legislation was needed and this therefore required a legislative slot at Westminster.
- A Bill was drafted and brief pre-legislative scrutiny was undertaken by the Welsh Affairs Committee (Westminster) and the Health and Social Care Committee (Cardiff) in 2005. There was also a full public consultation on the draft Bill.
- More than 1,700 organisations and individuals were consulted and 40 responses were received, with the overwhelming majority of respondents being in favour of the idea of a Commissioner.
- The revised Bill was introduced into the House of Lords in May 2005 and into the House of Commons in February 2006.
- The Commissioner for Older People in Wales Bill received Royal Assent on 25 July 2006.
- Proposals for Assembly secondary legislation covering the role and responsibilities and the appointment of a Commissioner for Older People in Wales were issued for consultation until 20 October 2006.
- The final regulations were discussed in plenary on 14 February 2007 and came into effect on 16 February.
- It is expected that the Commissioner will be appointed by the end of the year.
Wednesday, 18 July, 2007