Gwenda Thomas - Deputy Minister for Social Services
Wales has led the way in ageing policy in the UK and Europe. The Welsh Government published the first ever Strategy for Older People in Wales in 2003, and established the world’s first Older People’s Commissioner in 2008.
The Strategy for Older People, now in its third Phase, is grounded in the UN Principles for Older People. The Act that established the Commissioner was the first UK legislation to have the UN Principles for Older People on the face of the Act.
In October 2012, the First Minister for Wales asked the Older People’s Commissioner to outline the case for a rights based approach for older people in Wales. This rights based approach has cross party support.
Following consideration of the Commissioner’s report, I announced the Welsh Government’s commitment to explore the development of a Welsh Declaration of the Rights of Older People. I asked the Commissioner to lead an Advisory Group to inform and advise me on the potential content, scope and impact of such a Declaration. The Advisory Group included older people and organisations which work for and on behalf of older people.
Today I am pleased to launch a Declaration of Rights for Older People in Wales. The declaration is based on what older people in Wales say is important to them in their every day lives in the places where they live.
This Declaration brings to life the existing rights that older people already have in law such as the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010. The Declaration is very clear about what is expected of public services in Wales to ensure older people receive the support and services that they need, whilst their dignity and rights are protected.
The Welsh Government will work with a wide range of partners, including the Commissioner for Older People, to raise awareness of the Declaration and to ensure it is implemented and that its impact is regularly assessed.
The Declaration also supports my ambition within the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act to ensure that people in Wales have a strong voice and real control over services that they need to use.
The Act aims to promote the important well-being outcomes that people who need care and support and carers who need support can expect in order to lead fulfilled lives. My statement on Wellbeing is available online.
The Declaration of Rights builds on our definition of well-being and sets out what older people say rights means to them. The Declaration will give clear national direction to ensure that services work in partnership to protect people’s rights and build on people’s strengths and communities to enable them to maintain an appropriate level of independence with the appropriate level of care and support.
The publication today of the Declaration of Rights for Older People in Wales is another landmark moment for Wales and a further step toward achieving our ambition of Wales being the best place to grow older.
The Declaration is available online.