Monday, 7 January 2008

Older People's Champion

It seems a Champion for Older People has finally been announced. First Minister Rhodri Morgan is due to announce the appointment of a Commissioner for Older People - the first such post in the UK (we've been here before when in 2001, Wales was the first part of the UK to name a Children's Commissioner).

Ruth Marks, who is currently director of the Royal National Institute of Blind People in Wales, will take up her role in April. She has vowed to "ensure that the voice of older people is heard" and that they are involved in all policy making.
As well as looking at the interests of older people as a whole, the commissioner will be able to look at the effects that public bodies, such as the Welsh Assembly and NHS, have on them, and may publish reports on recommendations for change.

Speaking about her role, Ms Marks said:
Wales proportionately has more older people than other parts of the UK. The numbers are set to increase and that's why I think it's so important Wales is leading the way...It is a cause for celebration that we are living longer and healthier lives, but that doesn't mean older people in Wales have no difficulties to face...Some older people may be struggling financially, others are unable to access the services they need, and many are isolated and lonely...In the worst circumstances older people are abused and neglected.
Rhodri Morgan said Wales was setting an example for others to follow:

Wales is widely recognised as a world-leader in giving older people a greater say in developing services...This unique commissioner will further consolidate Wales' reputation.
Not in the majority of areas, Mr Morgan - not in the majority of areas [setting an example for others to follow].


Bedridden 7 January 2008 at 11:39  

All good gesture politics which will not make one jot of difference to the lives of older people in Wales. Given the average age of most Welsh councillors it is highly amusing that the Assembly seems to believe that older people need a commissioner to look after their interests. Look out for the reports pointing out the problems but with no solutions and the cases as the commissioner investigates the failure of local government and others in the public sector to provide the services older people need. Meanwhile back in the real world oaps face above inflation council tax rises and cuts in services because of the punitive settlement given to local government by the Assembly government.

Amundsen 7 January 2008 at 12:00  

Perhaps she can start by asking why excess winter deaths amongst the over 65s were greater in Wales in 2004/05 than they were in 1993/94 under the dreaded Tories.

Anonymous 7 January 2008 at 12:57  

Wales's population is older because of outmigration from the Valleys and Rural Wales over decades. In rural Wales the figure is increased by old English people moving there to retire.

More policies directed towards odler people will mean more older people moving into Wales - can we afford this? Young people (those who will have children, or do have children i.e. our future) can't afford houses in Ceredigion or Gwynedd or Conwy or Pembrokeshire becaue old people are pricing them out of the market.

Wales needs an old age Commissioned like it needs a hole in the head. What Wales needs is a Young People's Commissioner - a commissioned to look at ways of making it easier for people to have and raise children, to find meaning ful work in Wales and to finding homes they can afford, or at least not find that the local council house has been allocated to an old person who just fancied retiring in rural Wales.

This is a truly bad policy. Old people in Wales already have a disporpotionate influence on policy; most of our councillors are of retiring age or nearing, they have free travel passes and other gimmicks. This is just another election bribe to shore-up Labour's vote in the Valleys.

With a low birth-rate and our young people leaving to work I'd imagine that should be our priority.

This Commissioner will be there to make Wales the destination of choice for retiring English people - an extention of the Costa Geriatrica - all paid for by working Welsh people.

When I'm 64 7 January 2008 at 13:57  

Surely we need a third commissioner to look after those of us between 24 and 60 who have no champion to hold their hand. Another first for Wales to rank alongside the first canned beer in the world. Who cares that we are at the bottom of the table in most things we have the first old age commissioner in the world that will makes us the envy of the rest of the world. I'm sure that John Macain as he fights to become the next President of the USA is really disappointed that he doesn't have a Commissioner to fight for his rights. After all according to the Assembly it now seems that once we reach 60 we've had it.

Anonymous 7 January 2008 at 15:25  

Commissioner for Older People AKA:

Commissioner for White Flight English OPAs and Core Labour Valley's Voters

johnny foreigner 7 January 2008 at 16:11  

We'll keep a welcome in the hillsides.
We'll keep a welcome in the vales....

Please note that terms and conditions will apply, and that your freedom of expression and happiness will be at risk if you do not adhere to the strict cultural and linguistic conditions that we would wish to force upon you.

Your pal.


Anonymous 7 January 2008 at 16:57  

The first thing this old biddy should do is make sure that the Assembly's own care standards people were up to scratch ... with proper go round and gaze checks on care homes with unannounced visits, not just ensconcing themselves in the office and checking the paperwork which is all they do nowadays.

getting older by the minute 7 January 2008 at 17:18  

What a waste of £87K a year ,plus on costs of an office and trips for fact finding. Is she Welsh speaking - no is she Welsh - no
is she experienced in older matters no. Ok she must be one of the in crowd I guess.

Miss Wagstaff 7 January 2008 at 18:10  

I'm with some of you on this one. If the government feels it needs a commissioner to tell it where it's going wrong, then where's the commissioner for ages between 24 and 60. We have no champion to fight our cause.

I'm weeping.

Miss Wagstaff 7 January 2008 at 18:11  

Good to see you return, Johnny, after your turbulant private life.

Anonymous 7 January 2008 at 18:18  

Looks like they're attempting to get the gender balance right again.

Anonymous 7 January 2008 at 18:49  

weeping with miss Wagstaff - also jumping up and down shouting I want a commissioner - not!

Young at Heart 7 January 2008 at 21:15  

The sound went off the TV tonight so I assume that the Commissioner was the one with the glasses with those two from the local Butetown Care Home. The old lady didn't seem to have a clue where she was. and the guy with the white looked ready for his night time medication

johnny foreigner 7 January 2008 at 23:00  

Thanks for your kind words Miss Wagstaff. I don't get that many on the blogmosphere so yours are doubly appreciated. No turbulence really, just integral parts of life's rich tapestry, and I do enjoy a good funeral.

Down to business:

Now come on Miss Wagstaff, you're beginning to sound like one of the anonymous Nationalist trolls who seem to have hatred of anything that interferes with their vision of a Welsh Nationalist Nirvana.

You folks between 24 and 60 are more than able to speak up for yourselves and should not forget that many of the older folks have done their bit and made many sacrifices to obtain the freedom, wealth and security that we ALL enjoy. Consequently, a little more respect and concern for your elders, if you don't mind.

This country has long needed a Commissioner to recognise and address the needs and concerns of our Senior Citizens, me included.

The Nationalists are already on record as having described pensioners moving to Wales for their retirement, as a "cancer" a "drain on resources", and would clearly wish to ethnically cleanse certain areas of Wales of these "incomers".

This attitude comforts me in as much as it is not a universally held attitude of the majority of the people of Wales and carelessly and foolishly exposes the nasty side of the Nationalist cause.

The snide remarks of the nationalist nonnies (nonentities) @ 12:57 and 15:25 are a perfect example of this nastiness.

Naturally, the Nationalists ignore the fact that the incomers bring their wealth to Wales by the purchase of their properties and by their everyday spending.

The comment from 'getting older by the minute' @ 17:18 further exemplifies the Nationalist priorities by the two initial criteria as stated: "Is she Welsh speaking? - no. Is she Welsh? - no."

As if that makes any difference. This says it all really.

From what I have heard of our new Commissioner, and there being no real past history of this post in Wales, I am quite prepared to give the new Commissioner the opportunity to prove herself and justify her appointment.

You may be assured that I have many awkward questions to ask of her and will not be in the least bit bothered if she is not Welsh or Welsh speaking. As long as she does her job well, that'll do for me.

There are far more pertinent and important qualities that I would require the Commissioner to have.

You may also be assured that if she fails to be effective, she'll hear more from me.

To those who decry the Commissioner's appointment, I would merely say: your turn will come around soon enough. Tempus Fugit........and don't I know it?

Your pal.


Miss Wagstaff 8 January 2008 at 09:10  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miss Wagstaff 8 January 2008 at 09:11  

Thanks Johnny. My comment was only tongue in cheek which I'm sure you know.

I share the same opinion with yourself, in that those in society that can be in a vulnerable position are in need of a champion. The 'is she Welsh? etc' comment by the anon is just silly. Like many others, I judge people on their ability, so we'll have to wait and see what she's like and how she performs. Let's hope that she's not going to be there just to praise work that the government has done, which I'm sure she isn't, otherwise she'll be in for criticism herself, and from a variety of sources.

Anonymous 8 January 2008 at 11:02  

The 'is she Welsh? etc' comment by the anon is just silly.

I don't think it's silly at all. It's an ability. If Pakistanis and Poles can learn English, and be 'forced' to do so, why should monoglot English-speakers have a god-given right to speak no other language? Maybe Welsh shouldn't be mandatory for the job but it's not silly that it should be a consideration ... but then, maybe Welsh culture and expression is just a peasant culture which has no intrinsic worth and no dignity to it.

Some of the comments made just raise a general cynicism about the whole appointment. If you live in an area with above average older people, like Conwy, then seeing the whole economy and infrastructure geared towards older people and attracting older people is frustrating. And in counties like Ceredigion where house prices are higher than Cardiff (even though the average wage is lower) then it's an issue. It's an issue, partly because older (and yes, they're mostly English and so also change the linguistic make-up of the county - something the British/English won't allow to happen to their counties) are going there to retire, it is a valid point. Maybe people should stop being so Cardiff/SE centric.

But then, hey, Welsh isn't a proper language, being priced out of your county is no problem if you've got a house, losing our young people is not an issue for a weak cultural and linguistic community. So, yeah, lets just revert to type and call people xenophobic.

This is a cynical appointment. If WAG were serious about the wealfare of pensioners they'd sort-out the pensions and stop robbing the pension funds. It's just the baby-boomers, the most lucky generation in history, now approaching old age looking after themselves again and looking after their votes.

Schools are closing in all parts of Wales, rural Wales in particular, and funds have to be cut. Will this Commissioner now tell these councils to prioritise services for people who've made a life-style choice to move into these areas at the expense of people (what ever their background) who live in these counties and are the future of those places?

All parts of society are important, yes, including OAPs, but this Commissioner is ill-conveiced and not needed.

Miss Wagstaff 8 January 2008 at 11:11  

Anon 11:02

I was referring to the comment being silly, not the ability.

johnny foreigner 8 January 2008 at 18:57  

The nonny @ 11:02 said....

"why should monoglot English-speakers have a god-given right to speak no other language?"

johnny says....

That's simple. English is the Lingua Franca of the United Kingdom, Wales included.

You describe Poles and Pakistanis as being "forced" to learn English. Quite untrue, actually. They learn English because they want to.

I don't hear of too many Poles and Pakistanis who wish to learn Welsh. Why on earth would they?

Unfortunately, we, the monoglot English speaking majority in Wales, have no need or wish to learn Welsh either.

We all manage quite well via English, thank you very much.

Your comment further emphasises the nationalist nastiness so prevalent in Wales.

Keep up the good work.

Your pal.


ardibeltza 10 January 2008 at 18:02  

Ruth Marks is a Labour stooge. Nuff said. At all levels of civic society, this happens.

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