Wales has boosted its profile in Europe as a leading light in the development of ageing policy and is considering a declaration of older people’s rights.
The First Minister recently hosted the closing ceremony for the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between the Generations in Cardiff. The event was about changing the perception of getting old as a negative experience by emphasising the opportunities of people living longer and leading healthier lives.
People are currently being asked to respond to a consultation on the third phase of the Strategy for Older People in Wales which focuses on wellbeing, poverty, communities, engagement and participation, and preparing for the future. The proposals will form the basis of a 10-year action plan for Wales.
The first two phases of the strategy raised awareness of the issues older people face and put in place robust structures to enable the voice of older people to be heard by decision makers at local and national level.
Wales already has a higher proportion of people of state pension age than other parts of the UK, and over the life of the third phase of the strategy the number of people aged 85 and over is projected to double.
In a written statement to Assembly Members, Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services, Gwenda Thomas said:
“I stated the Welsh Government’s intention to consider and explore whether a Declaration of Older People’s Rights would help us in our ambition to protect and enhance the rights of older people in Wales and have asked my officials to consider, with partners, how this could be explored further. I am pleased that the Commissioner for Older People will lead with us on this work.
“Whilst a Welsh Declaration on the Rights of Older People would have no binding legal effect, it would send very clear signals to statutory bodies and service providers, as well as to older people themselves, about our expectations and would strengthen our ability to ensure that older people receive the support and services they need to lead independent and full lives.
“We recognise the value of the opportunity to build links with Europe and I welcome the Older Peoples’ Commissioner’s commitment to developing a five-year Ageing Well programme that will support our implementation of the Strategy for Older People.
“I am confident that we have the ambition and structures in place to help Wales respond to the opportunities and challenges that population changes present.”
Sarah Rochira, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, said:
“I am delighted the Welsh Government has responded to my call to enhance the rights of older people. This marks a significant step forward and would, for the first time, provide clear expectations to those who are responsible for the development and delivery of public services.
"A Declaration on the Rights of Older People, the first of its kind in the UK, will provide a clear framework and standard that can be used by older people themselves to ensure that they receive the support and services they need to lead fulfilled, independent lives.”