Older Peoples Commissioner: Action needed to ensure that older people’s voices are heard
A new report published today by the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales has found that older people across Wales are often unable to access advocacy services, which play a vital role in helping people to make their voices heard and ensuring that their rights are upheld.
The report – Making Voices Heard: Older People’s Access to Independent Advocacy in Wales – also found that people’s legal rights to advocacy in certain circumstances are not always understood by health and social care professionals and that shortcomings in current legislation and the way in which it is applied can prevent people from fully participating when decisions are being made about their lives.
The report is based on extensive evidence gathered across Wales from older people and carers who have been supported by independent advocates, advocacy providers, those commissioning services and stakeholders working with and for older people.
Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Sarah Rochira, said: “Ensuring that older people have a strong voice so they can participate in and guide decisions being made about their lives in a meaningful way is key to delivering high quality services and the outcomes that people want and need.
“For some older people, the only way to achieve this will be with the support of an independent advocate who can represent their views and speak out on their behalf.
“But as my report shows, older people are often unaware that this kind of support is available and are often unable to access it, even in cases when they have a legal right to it, which is simply not acceptable.”
The Commissioner is calling on the Welsh Government, Local Authorities and Health Boards to take a range of action to address the barriers older people often face in accessing independent advocacy, including raising awareness about advocacy amongst older people; making an ‘active offer’ of advocacy to older people living in care homes and those being discharged from hospital, who may be vulnerable; workforce training; and improved planning and data collection to identify and address potential gaps in advocacy provision.
The Commissioner added: “When older people do not have a strong voice, their identity, confidence and rights are all undermined significantly. Independent advocacy plays a key role in ensuring that older people’s voices are heard and acted upon, which is vital to give them choice and control over their lives.
“Public bodies must therefore take the action needed, as set out in my report, to ensure that advocacy services are available and sustainable and that older people across Wales, particularly those in vulnerable situations, can easily access independent advocacy should they need it.”
Click here to download Making Voices Heard: Older People’s Access to Independent Advocacy in Wales