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Elderly are being let down by public services.

Whilst we have many outstanding public service staff within Wales, too many older people are being failed by the services and systems that should and must be there to support them, particularly at times of vulnerability and greatest need.

All too often a crisis has to occur before support and care is provided. Waiting times for essential assistance that helps people to stay independent and safe are unacceptably long in parts of Wales.

There are growing variations in the levels of services and support provided, and for too many older people access to the support they need is a postcode lottery. As a result, too many older people are vulnerable, lose their independence and are becoming isolated and lonely.

On my first day in post I was rightly challenged about what I was going to do as Commissioner to make a difference to the lives of older people in Wales.

I promised them that I would be a strong, independent champion and a loud voice for them. Today I lay out very clearly how I am going to do that and how I will hold to account those in public service whose purpose it is to improve the lives of older people. I am standing up and speaking out.

Today I publish, for the first time, the Commission's work programme in which I lay out 50 specific pieces of work I am going to be taking forward, many of which will have direct impact on public service providers in Wales.

I will be working with our public services to make sure that the way services and support are developed draws directly on the needs and voices of older people.

I will also be laying down guidance and, where necessary, will use the legal powers at my disposal to ensure that this guidance is complied with.

I will be requiring those accountable for our public services to prove to me, and older people, that they are making a real difference.

I will do this for the first time in October when I will be making a public statement on the progress made by the NHS in Wales towards the implementation of our Dignified Care review recommendations.

I will also be scrutinising a range of published strategies, policies and plans to make sure that they will deliver the changes and improvements older people need to see.

I know there is much work already underway to improve support and services for older people. As Commissioner I will require evidence that this work is delivering for older people across Wales and making a real difference to their lives.

There are over 710,000 older people in Wales; parts of Wales have the highest levels of older people proportionately within the UK. We have an ageing population: changes we make now will not only have an impact on the current generation of older people, but on generations to come.

Those that lead our public services must ensure that the changes they implement make a tangible difference to the lives of all older people, regardless of where they live.

Functions of commissioner As Commissioner I have four statutory functions: ? To promote awareness of the rights and interests of older people in Wales ? To challenge discrimination against older people in Wales ? To encourage best practice in the treatment of older people in Wales ? To review the law affecting the interests of older people in Wales Work needed to be done? I will monitor action taken, and progress made, by Local Health Boards and the Welsh Government to meet the recommendations we made following our 'Dignified Care?' hospital review. We will publish a verdict on progress to date and the extent to which hospital care for older people has improved. ? I will produce guidance for local authorities and care home managers about the provision of independent advocacy for older people when entering, living in, or moving from, a care home. ? I will work with Local Government to ensure that local community plans reflect the issues raised by older people, for example, reliable public transport, availability of public toilets and community facilities. We will look for evidence of joined up working, clear outcomes, and effective engagement and accountability. ? I will be holding local authorities to account re. their legal obligations on disabled facilities grants. They must meet the legal timescales so that older people can remain at home and live independently for as long as possible.

. ? I am writing to the Chief Executives of local authorities and health boards to outline my expectations for involving older people when decisions are being made to potentially close or change services.

CAPTION(S):

Older People's Commissioner for Wales Sarah Rochira
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Publication:Daily Post (Conwy, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 19, 2012
Words:778
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