I was honoured to take up post as Commissioner in August 2018 and it is a privilege to be working to improve the lives of older people throughout Wales.
2018 marked ten years since the role of the Commissioner – the first of its kind in the world – was established, and a huge amount has been delivered for older people, through influencing policy and practice, scrutinising the government and public bodies and holding them to account, formal reviews and guidance, and providing casework support directly to older people.
I would like to thank my predecessors, Ruth Marks and Sarah Rochira for all they achieved for older people in Wales over the past decade, and for laying such strong foundations for my work as Commissioner. I would also like to thank my team for their hard work and support during a time of significant transition. This report covers both the work delivered at the end of Sarah’s tenure as Commissioner, and my own work to empower and drive change for older people since August 2018.
Since taking up post, I have travelled the length and breadth of Wales, meeting and speaking with older people from a diverse range of backgrounds, as well as organisations working with and for older people, to hear directly from them about their experiences of growing older in Wales, and their thoughts and ideas about the change needed and the ways in which improvements could be delivered.
This engagement, which included an extensive programme of consultation with older people and stakeholders, helped to develop my strategy – Making Wales the best place in the world to grow older – which sets out the action I will take over the next three years to improve older people’s lives.
My work will be focused around three key priorities – ending ageism and age discrimination, stopping the abuse of older people and enabling everyone to age well.
I have a unique role to play in taking forward these priorities and I will deliver a wide range of work against each of them. But my role is also to encourage others to take these issues on and work together to deliver change, something that will only be achieved by a concerted and consistent effort across society. I will also continue to work to empower older people and ensure they have a strong voice that is listened to and acted upon and highlight the significant contribution they make to society, alongside protecting and promoting older people’s rights and challenging public bodies and services when these rights are not upheld.
As Commissioner, I will make clear where improvements are needed and highlight the issues and failures within policy and practice that have a negative impact on older people’s quality of life. But I will also shine a light on good practice, recognising what many individuals and organisations across Wales are already doing to make Wales the best place in the world to grow older. I will encourage and promote innovative and effective approaches that make a positive difference to the lives of older people so they can be delivered more widely across Wales.
Whilst growing older is a positive experience for many people, this is not the case for everyone, particularly those who are most vulnerable, and much more needs to be done so that all older people can have the best possible quality of life, remain active and engaged, access the services and support they may need, and do the things that matter to them.
That’s why it’s so important for us to be ambitious in what we want to achieve for older people and why, as Commissioner, I will be working to make Wales the best place in the world to grow older.
Helena Herklots CBE
Older People’s Commissioner for Wales
Download the Commissioner's Impact and Reach Report 2018-19