Faster, higher, stronger...
Did you know the Olympic motto is ‘faster, higher, stronger’?
Olympic week – the sun’s been shining and the haul of gold medals keeps on growing. What a fantastic Team GB! I thought it was wonderful at the opening ceremony to see some of our older and youngest athletes together, sharing one simple aim: to be the best that they could be.
Because isn’t that what we, in public service, should be trying to do – to deliver the best for older people, not, as it sometimes feels for too many people, the minimum.
The Olympic motto, as I found out this week, is ‘faster, higher, stronger’ and, because we’re all Olympic mad, in my blog this week I’ve worked out why this should apply to all of us in public service and not just to Olympians.
Faster ... we are beginning to see a real improvement in many of our public services, although variations in the quality of and access to support are growing. It’s still a postcode lottery for many people and some of our most valued services are at an increasing risk of being lost.
I do see much good practice, but the pace at which this is being rolled out is just too slow. Many older people don’t have decades to wait; we need to speed up the pace of improvement. We need to move faster.
Higher ... the standards we set for public service should be the highest we can think of; why wouldn’t they be? Older people aren’t a burden – it should be considered a privilege to give back a little in their time of need.
Our volunteers, befrienders and charitable organisations across Wales all understand this. Yet I don’t think we do set our standards high enough. In fact, we’ve got used to accepting appallingly low standards and just passing by without comment.
We need to set our standards higher.
Stronger ... we need to be stronger in our resolve. Of course issues are complex, of course we live in hard times. Older people don’t need to be told that – many of them have lived through times more complex and harder than we can imagine. And yes, many of the issues we have to grapple with are outside of our control. This should simply strengthen our resolve because what we do we do for our families and those we care about. That’s who older people are.
It may take time, but we’ve got to be tenacious and quite simply never give up on getting it better, not just for some but for all older people.
I don’t expect any of our wonderful athletes have had an easy time getting to the Olympics, let alone winning. They would have had to make sacrifices, difficult choices and challenge themselves more than they probably ever thought they could.
If they can do it then so can we.