Making Voices Heard: Older People’s Access to Independent Advocacy in Wales
A key focus of the Commissioner's role is to ensure that older people have a strong voice and to be a voice for those who do not have one. This principle was embedded in the Commissioner's Framework for Action 2013-17, which outlined her commitment to ‘take action to ensure that older people in situations of vulnerability have a strong voice of their own and are heard, including a right to independent advocacy, both for those who have and do not have capacity’. Not only do older people tell the Commissioner that this is important to them, but it is also important to the wider public who want older people ‘to be heard and to have a voice’.
It is clear from the Commissioner's ongoing engagement with older people, her casework and her engagement with organisations that provide services for older people, in particular third sector organisations and Independent Advocacy Services across Wales, that many older people are still struggling to have a voice.
It is for this reason that the Commissioner decided to review the extent to which older people in Wales are getting access to independent advocacy, including when they have a legal right to it, to enable them to participate in, and be at the centre of, decisions that affect their lives.
Despite a range of action now being undertaken, it is clear that a significant number of older people are unable to access independent advocacy, both more generally and in relation to new legislative duties. Independent advocacy is not being routinely used as a means of ensuring people’s rights are made real, throughout the delivery of health and social care across Wales.
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