Rebecca Evans Minister for Social Services and Public Health
On the International Day of Older people, I want to set out, on behalf of all Ministers, our continued commitment to, and support for, older people. This is a government that values older people and the contribution they have made - and continue to make - within our communities.
As a government we have listened to what older people have said is important to them. We know older people want to stay active and engaged in their own homes and within their local communities for as long as possible. We also know older people want to have voice and control over their lives and to contribute, to and make decisions about, their life as they grow older.
Many older people want - and may also need - to keep working. Older people also want to continue to learn and to have opportunities for training. Learning and training opportunities should not just be for young people and that is why we have committed to create a minimum of 100,000 high quality apprenticeships for people of all ages. We will work with employers to ensure they value the knowledge and skills that older people bring to the workforce. We will ensure older people are able to remain in work if they want to, or they are supported through retraining to learn new skills to apply for new jobs. This is good for older people and it is also good for our economy.
Older people want to be safe, and too many older people are the victims of abuse or crime. We are committed to ensuring that older people are safe and are able to live fear free. Older people also want to be treated with dignity and respect. When older people need care and support, we will ensure that those caring for older people have the knowledge, skills and competencies to deliver high quality, compassionate care.
Loneliness and isolation can have a major impact on health and well-being and is therefore an important public health issue. We have committed to developing a nationwide and cross-government strategy to address loneliness and isolation. We have also committed to working with communities to protect local facilities that bring people together, including libraries, leisure centres and museums. We know these facilities are important, particularly for older people. We also know the importance of befriending schemes. I will work with partners across Wales to reduce the number of people, including older people, who are lonely or isolated.
In the last government we brought forward legislation that places the well-being of all people, including older people, at the heart of everything we do. We will ensure our ground-breaking legislation is fully implemented and all the benefits are realised. We want Wales to be a fair society and will continue our work with all protected groups to counter discrimination. In terms of potential future legislation, the First Minister has had initial discussions with the Older People’s Commissioner in relation to strengthening the rights for older people.
Within Wales we have done much already to recognise and address the issues that matter to older people. We will be reviewing the Older People’s Strategy over the coming months and will focus on some key priority areas for delivery. I am committed to ensuring the well-being of older people and will work with the Older People’s Commissioner and other stakeholders to ensure Wales is a great place to grow old and age well.