Older people must not be left behind as Wales looks towards its recovery
The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales is calling for immediate action from the Welsh Government and other public bodies to ensure that older people are not ‘left behind’ as Wales begins to move towards its recovery from Covid-19.
Her calls come alongside the publication of a new report, ‘Leave no one behind: Action for an age-friendly recovery’, which examines the significant impact that Covid-19 has had on older people throughout Wales, and sets out the action needed across a number of key areas – including social care and health, the economy, and our communities – that must be delivered as we move forward to ensure that older people can participate fully in Wales’s recovery and can access any support they may need.
The report is based on evidence captured through extensive engagement with older people, who have shared their experiences with the Commissioner throughout the pandemic, as well as information and evidence gathered through ongoing engagement with bodies and organisations working with and for older people.
The Commissioner has identified practical action that must be delivered immediately to tackle issues created by the pandemic, as well as longer-term action designed to tackle the wider structural issues that affect older people which have been exacerbated by Covid-19. This action includes:
- Repealing sections of the Coronavirus Act that risk limiting older people’s rights to care and support.
- Establishing a rehabilitation programme for older people who have been affected physically and/or mentally by Covid-19.
- Establishing a dedicated programme to support older workers to remain in work or retrain if they are facing redundancy.
- Investing in a targeted campaign and assistance to increase the take-up of Pension Credit.
- Providing older people with tailored support to get them online, including providing user-friendly devices with access to the internet.
Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Heléna Herklots CBE, said:
“After months of disruption that has had a significant impact on older people, we’re now seeing a great deal of discussion and debate about the changes that are needed and what the future will look like.
“But many of the older people I have spoken to are concerned that they will be ‘left behind’ as Wales moves into its recovery phase and will not be able to get the support they may need.
“My report sets out the action that older people want and need to see – both immediately and in the longer term – to tackle the issues and challenges they have faced in recent months, protect older people’s rights and ensure that action is taken to address wider issues relating to services and support for older people, many of which have been exacerbated by Covid-19.”
The Commissioner has already begun working with the Welsh Government and other key public bodies to ensure that older people’s experiences and needs shape their plans as they move forward, and will use the report as a powerful evidence base to drive change for older people.
The Commissioner added:
“The pandemic has shone a light on many of the issues faced by older people throughout Wales, and we have seen the disproportionate impact that Covid-19 has had on many groups within society, reflecting long-standing systemic inequalities and discrimination.
“But throughout the pandemic, we have also seen many examples of positive community action throughout Wales that has provided crucial support to those who have needed it, including many older people.
“As Wales begins to move towards its recovery, we must build upon this positive action, which has delivered so much for so many, alongside recognising the significant contribution that older people make to our communities and our economy and promoting intergenerational solidarity. Together we can ensure that no-one is left behind.”
Click here to download Leave no-one behind: Action for an age-friendly recovery