Sarah Rochira Biography
Sarah took up post as the Older People's Commissioner for Wales on 4 June 2012 having spent over 25 years within the public and third sectors in Wales.
Over the course of her career she has worked within a wide range of NHS organisations across Wales, including acute hospital, community and primary care and mental health services and as a commissioner of services. She also had specific responsibilities within the NHS in Wales for equality and diversity, organisational development, training and education programmes and communication.
Sarah has worked extensively with and for older people. She served as Director of the RNIB Cymru Group from 2008-12, a membership based organisation and the largest sight loss charity within the UK providing extensive front line services and support, to the 110,000 people within Wales with a sight loss, the majority of whom are older people. She has also been an active campaigner for changes to UK and Welsh Government policy and priorities.
In 2009, Sarah established, and has been Chair of, the Wales Vision Strategy, a World Health Organisation linked initiative that brought together over 25 partner organisations with the purpose of reducing blindness and ensuring effective support to people within Wales who live with sight loss. Prior to taking up her post as Commissioner, Sarah was Chair of Age Alliance Wales, an alliance of 20 national voluntary organisations committed to working together to support and inform the development of legislation, policy and services to improve the lives of older people.
Sarah is passionate about making a difference to the lives of all older people in Wales. As Commissioner, she will ensure that they have a strong voice, and will be a vocal advocate and champion for those who cannot speak up for themselves.
This week – as part of Dementia Awareness Week 2015 – I announced that I have commissioned Age Cymru to capture the voices and experiences of older people in Wales living with dementia on my behalf, raising awareness of the challenges they face in their day-to-day lives and making real my commitment to give a voice back to those whose voices may have grown quieter.
One of the issues I have highlighted consistently as Commissioner, an issue that is reaching epidemic proportions in Wales, is loneliness and isolation among older people.
I spend much of my time out and about across Wales, meeting with the people that I represent as Commissioner, often just sitting down quietly and chatting over a cup of tea. They are generous enough to share their lives and experiences with me, often talking about who they were and the things they had done before they were labelled as older people. By spending time with these older people, I have come to understand something very simple: we need to see behind the label and remember who older people once were. In doing so, we remember that we have a debt of gratitude to them as well, something that has been poignantly highlighted this week by the BBC in their ‘Our Greatest Generation’ programmes, which are commemorating the 70th anniversary of VE Day.
Across the world today, events and celebrations are taking place as part of the International Day of Happiness, recognising the difference that being happy can make to our lives. The focus of this year’s events is the importance of our connections with other people and the impact on our lives when these connections are missing, something that, sadly, too many older people across Wales can relate to...
Across the world on Sunday 8 March, thousands of events will take place to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women as part of International Women’s Day 2015.
Last week, the Welsh Government announced that an additional £70m will be invested in the NHS in Wales, with £30m allocated to Primary Care – to shift services away from hospital settings and improve access to preventative, community and social care services. While any additional funding to improve our health service is to be welcomed, it is essential that this money is targeted effectively to maximise its impact and deliver the best possible outcomes for those who use Primary Care Services.