Next government of Wales must make rights real for older people


The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales is using Human Rights Day (10 December) to call on the next Government of Wales to introduce legislation that will protect and promote the rights of older people so they can live free of abuse, neglect, ageism and discrimination, participate fully in their communities and thrive in older age.

The Commissioner is concerned that the rights of too many older people, particularly those who may be vulnerable, diminish as they get older, something that can have a devastating impact upon their lives.  

Creating a single piece of legislation by bringing together a number of internationally recognised instruments designed to protect older people’s rights and addressing any gaps that are identified would create specific duties for public bodies and ensure that they adopt a rights based approach to service delivery.

Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Sarah Rochira, said: “Moving towards a rights based approach to service delivery in Wales is essential to ensure that the rights of older people can no longer be overlooked or ignored by those providing services.

“A rights based approach focuses on the rights and needs of an individual, moving away from the one-size-fits-all approach that is still too common in public service delivery.

“A rights based approach not only ensures that service design and delivery protects and promotes people’s rights, but also makes rights more relevant to individuals, vital so that they can identify when their rights are not being upheld and challenge service providers.

“The current instruments available to promote this approach – which include the Human Rights Act or the UN Principles for Older People – are often not seen as relevant or applicable by service providers or older people and are therefore not used as effectively as they could be to protect and promote older people’s rights

The Commissioner has brought together a group of experts from across the public, legal and third sectors, as well as older people, to support her work to determine what could be included within the proposed legislation and how it would work in practice. The findings of the expert group will be presented to the new Welsh Government in 2016.

The Commissioner added: “At a time when serious questions are being asked at a UK level about the future of legislation designed to protect people’s rights, the next Government of Wales has a real opportunity to build upon Wales’ proud record of driving the social justice agenda and use its law-making powers to ensure that older people’s rights are protected and promoted to ensure equality and parity with other age groups.

“Whilst I do not underestimate the challenge of delivering this change, it is essential that rights are made real for older people across Wales and I look forward to leading this work on behalf of older people.”