Guest blog from the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales
Each year on October 1, the world takes a moment to celebrate older people and the many ways they contribute to our lives as part of the UN International Day of Older Persons. This year, with the world around us having changed so much, things are a little different, of course.
But today is a good opportunity to not only pause and reflect on the ways that Covid-19 is affecting older people throughout the world, but also to consider what we need to do to ensure that older people are not left behind as we begin to move forward, a concern that has been raised with me by many older people.
Throughout the pandemic, my team and I have engaged with older people across Wales, to hear from them about the issues and challenges they’ve faced, as well as the things that have made a positive difference to their lives during the past few months.
These voices and experiences are at the heart of my ‘Leave No-one Behind’ report, which I published in August. The report examines the impact that the pandemic has had on many aspects of older people’s lives and calls for action across a number of key areas – including social care and health, the economy, and our communities – to ensure that older people can access the help and support they may need and can participate fully when Wales begins its recovery from Covid-19.
Within the report, I have 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 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.
I have begun working with the Welsh Government, key public bodies and other organisations to ensure that older people’s experiences and needs shape their plans as they move forward, and I will use the report as a powerful evidence base to drive change for older people.
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.
It’s crucial that we 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.