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Wales Leads the way by Introducing The Declaration on Rights for Older People
Wales has become the first country in the world to adopt a Declaration of the Rights of Older People, which clearly sets out the rights of older people in Wales.
What is the Declaration?
The Declaration aims to help older people understand their rights more effectively and how they relate to current equality and human rights laws in Wales. It will make it clear how older people can be engaged with and supported from those responsible for running and developing public services.
What is it based on?
The Declaration is based on the opinions of older people in Wales with regards to what was important to them and how their lives could be enhanced and includes the UN Principles for Older Persons, that sets out what older people have said they value and what rights they feel would support and protect them .
The Declaration reflects relevant Human Rights and Equality legislation against each aspirational right for older people in Wales, however the Declaration itself has no legally binding effects and relies upon current legislation.
What are these rights?
“I have the right to be who I am”
- I have the right to be valued.
- I have free will and the right to make decisions about my life.
- I have the right to decide where I live, how I live and with whom I live.
- I have the right to work, develop, participate and contribute.
- I have a right to safety, security and justice.
How will the Declaration Work?
The Declaration will ensure that people (statutory bodies or service providers) whom work or act on behalf of Older People are aware of what is expected with regards to the service provision for Older People their rights, choices and aspirations.
An Action Plan will be developed between the Welsh Government, the Older Persons Commissioner and representative stakeholders, the process of which will include monitoring mechanisms to evaluate the impact of the Declaration and will involve seeking the views and opinions of Older People in Wales.
Bearing this in mind it would seem highly likely in due course that Commissioners of services, Regulators and Inspectors may incorporate the Declaration into quality assurance monitoring of Care Homes for Older People.
How can we check that the Declaration is being adhered with regards to Care Homes for Older People?
As a helpful guide when measuring the extent to which the Declaration is being implemented in Care Homes, Service Managers may wish to consider the following extracts from the Declaration, and what evidence/information they have to support that the Declaration is being met. It may be useful to cross reference the Declaration with the National Minimum Standards for Older Persons 2002 when looking for evidence, in consultation with your homes quality assurance processes, service user’s guide, policies and procedures.
The following examples are taken directly from the Declaration of the Rights of Older People which can be downloaded from the Welsh Government Website here: http://wales.gov.uk/topics/health/publications/health/strategies/rights/?lang=en.
“Not all older people are the same. I have the right to be who I am, I am a unique person and have the right to be understood, considered and recognised as an individual. I have the right to be treated equally and without discrimination .I have the right to use the language of my choice to communicate”.
“Because I am a human being I have the right to be valued. My life is significant to me and those who care about me and I have the right to live a life that has value, meaning and purpose .I matter, I am of worth and what I contribute to society throughout my life has value”
“I have the right to make decisions and be supported to do so if necessary. I have the right to exercise my free will and make choices .My opinion is the most important when decisions are being made about me and my life .I have the right to be supported to live independently”.
“I have the right to decide where I live and to choose the person or people to spend my life with, I have the right to live somewhere I can call home and live with a community I love”.
“My life does not come to an end because I have reached a certain age, I have the right to work, I have a right to full involvement in my own community. I have the right to thrive and to continue learning and developing and growing. I have the right to support so I can continue contributing. I have the right to explore new things.
“I have a right to be taken seriously when I am afraid .I have the right to information and advice that addresses my worries and uncertainties, If I need the law to protect me I should not be treated differently because I am older .I also have the right to take risks if I want to”.
Carole Rees-Williams – Welsh Care Expert