Julie Morgan MS, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services
Today, I am pleased to announce the launch of a public consultation on the Strategy for an Ageing Society.
The strategy sets out our vision for an age friendly Wales that supports people of all ages to live and age well. We want to create a Wales where everyone looks forward to growing older.
A Wales where individuals can take responsibility for their own health and well-being whilst feeling confident that support will be available and easily accessible if needed.
A Wales where ageism does not limit potential or affect the quality of services older people receive.
Ultimately, we want to be a nation that celebrates age and, in line with the UN Principles for Older Persons, a nation that upholds the independence, participation, care, self fulfilment and dignity of older people at all times.
This consultation was due to launch in March 2020, just as the far reaching impact of Covid-19 on individuals and communities across Wales was becoming clear. However, creating an age friendly Wales that upholds older people’s rights and promotes intergenerational solidarity is more pertinent today than ever before. We have therefore updated sections of this document to reflect policy changes in response to Covid-19, but the core elements of our co-produced strategy and its vision remain unchanged.
Our national vision for an age friendly Wales covers the places where people work, their rights and entitlements, their relationships within their families and local communities and with government. It also encompasses the relationships we have across the generations and aims to challenge and change the way we think about ageing.
Creating positive links between generations lays the foundations for a society that can live, work and play together. We are all individuals with different skills, experiences and indeed personal traits, but together we can build vibrant, cohesive communities that enable everyone to achieve their potential, to learn, to age well and, most importantly, to enjoy life.
Intergenerational solidarity can lay the foundations for mutual respect between generations. We are all living longer, but unless we start to challenge negative images of ageing from an early age, we could become a nation that is scared of growing older instead of one that embraces old age and the new opportunities it brings.
I am proud that this strategy adopts a rights based approach that promotes equality and social justice and places older people’s voices at the core of Welsh Government policy making. The United Nations Principles for Older Persons have informed the development of this document and will guide its implementation. By rejecting ageism and age discrimination, we aim to create a more equal society that enables people of all ages to fulfil their potential no matter what their background or circumstances.
To support the implementation of a rights based approach, we have worked with older people and professionals to draft practical guidance demonstrating how local authorities can have due regard to the United Nations Principles for Older Persons, as required by the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. Due regard means more than simply being aware of the UN Principles. It means that local authorities must actively consider how the duties impact on the decisions they make.
The guidance shows how simple changes to the way we work can uphold an individual’s human rights and have a major impact on their well-being. We have also produced a version of this guidance for older people. I hope that these two documents will be used together to guide conversations and inspire a common understanding of the transformative effect of a rights-based approach.
Following a three month consultation period for the Strategy for an Ageing Society, we will work with stakeholders to publish an action plan that will guide its implementation as we work together to rebuild our communities and relationships following the pandemic.
I look forward to working together to make Wales an age friendly nation. You can download the consultation document here.