Reflecting on my first week as Commissioner
When I reflect on my first week as Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, which I spent travelling across Wales meeting and speaking with older people, the word that springs to mind is ‘confidence’. The older woman who has regained confidence from attending a centre who otherwise would be isolated at home. The older man who meets up with the friends he’s made at the drop-in café. The passengers of the Dial-A-Ride service having the confidence to go shopping knowing that they will be helped door-to-door.
I also met committed and dedicated staff, confident in the services that they are providing and the enabling ways in which they’re providing them, who see and feel the impact their hard work is making to older people’s lives. Breaking isolation, giving carers a break, improving wellbeing, creating a network of support and so much more.
But they are less confident about the future of the services they deliver – often lacking the security of long-term funding; dealing with unintended consequences of changes in policy and regulation; needing to continually promote their services so they receive referrals and reach those who would benefit greatly from what they have to offer.
In the weeks and months ahead, I will be visiting many services, older people’s groups, and colleagues working to support older people across Wales. My aim from these visits is to explore how we can make Wales the best place to grow older. I want to hear from those I meet about what works; what the barriers and challenges are; what needs to change and how we can make those changes happen – together.
From just my first week I am confident that I will meet many inspiring people who are doing so much to make Wales the best place to grow older and who will be invaluable in helping to shape my work and priorities as Commissioner.