Advocacy provision, whereby older people are supported to access services such as utilities, health, housing, and benefits advice, or perhaps to reconnect with their local community, is on the increase in Wales. In effect advocacy helps older people to have their views, wishes and feelings heard when important decisions are being made about their lives.
Age Cymru undertook its eighth biennial study of advocacy services, Advocacy Counts 8, and found that, since 2020, there has been an increase in the number of advocacy services from 12 to 19 specifically for older people with the number of paid and volunteer advocates quadrupling to approximately 132 individuals across Wales.
It also found the total number of people supported across all services in Wales over the last 12 months rose by 16% to 19,592. Advocacy Services specifically funded for older people now exist in all 22 local authority areas in Wales compared to just 15 in 2020.
The findings were featured at a special advocacy conference for health and social care workers held in Llandrindod Well earlier this month.
Louise Hughes, who heads up the charity’s Advocacy project, says: “We’re delighted with the findings showing a significant increase in advocacy provision as this means that more, potentially vulnerable older people, are getting access to the services and opportunities they need to live a later life of dignity and well being.
“However, there is still a lot of work to do, particularly with raising awareness of advocacy services amongst potential beneficiaries and their families.
“We also need to raise awareness of advocacy services amongst social workers and health professionals through training and promotion, so they will become more likely to refer their clients to an advocacy service.”