The Commissioner for Older People in Wales, Sarah Rochira, has committed to 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. The Commissioner has welcomed the cross-party commitment she has received to introducing legislation to protect and promote the rights of older people in Wales.
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. Examples of this would include neglect within a care setting, lack of support with using the toilet, lack of help with eating where help is needed, inappropriate hospital discharge at night – but also in housing, transport, and domestic violence
Older People should not have to reclaim their rights once they have been lost – rights must be integrated into how services are provided. It is often too late when a complaint has to be made.
The current instruments available to promote this approach – which include the Human Rights Act and the UN Principles for Older People – are seen as out of reach or not relevant or applicable by service providers or older people and are therefore not used as effectively as they could be
The rights that older people have under this legislation are so broad that they have not proven to be an effective framework in shaping good public provision or challenging unacceptable care and support
There is a precedent for the action the Commissioner is taking – the Children’s Rights Measure and the 2014 Children’s Rights Scheme in Wales – there is a strong case for parity for older people to end discrimination
An Expert Panel has been established from across the public, legal and third sectors, as well as older people, to support the Commissioner’s 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 later in 2016.
The next government of Wales must make rights real for older people.