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MAKING BETTER GOVERNMENT FOR OLDER PEOPLE HAPPEN IN WALES

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Council members and officers will meet with older people from all over Wales tomorrow to discuss how to improve ser...
Council members and officers will meet with older people from all over Wales tomorrow to discuss how to improve services for older people and involve older people in developing better services.

They will hear how two pilot projects in Rhondda Cynon Taff and Ynys Mon are already changing services following consultation with older people. The pilots are part of the national better government for older people programme.

Britain needs to raise its game to give older people more opportunities, better services and a bigger say, according to 'We're all getting on in life', a new briefing paper recently published by Better Government for Older People. The programme is part of the national Modernising government initiative to improve public services for older people and recognise the contribution they make to their communities.

The paper highlights why older people matter, what they want and why planning for future generations of older people is crucial. Key findings are:

- by 2031 41% of the British population will be over 50 compared to 27% currently;

- voter turnout by older people is higher than other age groups in all elections;

- older people want services that better meet their needs and help them stay independent as well as improved access to and information about services;

- older people want opportunities to continue to be involved in their community through volunteering and employment; and

- older people want a bigger say in the decisions that affect them.

Dozens of new initiatives have been launched to improve quality of life and services for residents by the 28 better government for older people pilot projects across the UK.

The report details progress made by the pilots to engage with older people, provide lifelong learning opportunities and improve access to information and services. Pilot projects in Wales are:

- Rhondda Cynon Taff - this project has focused on how older people access information and services and the barriers they face. Older people have been surveyed about the services they receive, how they found out about them and how they could be improved; and

- Ynys Mon - following consultation with older people, management of the home care service is being devolved to local communities so it responds better to the needs of local people. Older people are actively involved in developing community-based preventative services to help frail older people maintain their independence. The project is also backing 'Home and Safe', a specialised monitoring service for people with dementia that aims to help them stay in their own home as long as possible by installing a range of alarms.

Older people from the pilots have also recently formed a national advisory group to provide a new voice for older people and a sounding board for the programme.

Cabinet Office minister Ian McCartney said:

'Older people are among the biggest users of public services. But they sometimes suffer from a failure to respond to their needs and listen to their voices. The better government for older people pilots in Wales are at the forefront in finding innovative ways to make sure older people get the services they deserve. They are prime examples of how modernising government should work.'

Better government for older people programme director, Martin Shreeve, said:

'We can do much more to make life better for older people - particularly by listening to what they want and involving them in decisions about services. We are all getting on in life and we must plan for all our futures. Better government for older people is better for everybody.'

NOTES

1. The government has introduced many measures to help Britain's pensioners, including:

- free eye tests for the over 60s;

- a five-fold increase in the winter fuel allowance from£20 to£100 this winter and subsequent years for all pensioner households;

- a cut in VAT on fuel to 5%;

- a minimum income guarantee to raise the standard of living for the poorest pensioners with a minimum income of£75 a week for single pensioners and£116.60 for couples; and

- free TV licences for all pensioners over 75 from next autumn.

2. ''We're all getting on in life' better government for older people - Making It Happen Briefing 1' is available free from Better Government for Older People programme, Tel: 01902-824270.

3. 'The Network in Wales' event takes place on Thursday 18 November 1999 at City Hall, Cardiff.

4. Better Government for Older People is a two year programme, supported by central and local government and older people's organisations, which aims to encourage local agencies to work together with older people in new and better ways.

5. The pilot projects have already demonstrated real benefits for older people:

- A higher profile for ageing issues and the ageing agenda;

- Greater opportunities to contribute to policy and service planning;

- More chance to have a say and be heard;

- Services changing to meet needs better;

- More opportunities for education and employment;

- Increased inter-generational activities; and

- Commitment to inter-agency partnership working.

6. Better Government for Older People is supported by the Cabinet Office, Age Concern England, Warwick University, Help the Aged, Local Government Association, Anchor Trust and Carnegie Third Age Programme.

7. The 28 pilot projects are in: Bolton; Bury; Coventry; Devon; Hackney; Hammersmith & Fulham; Harrow; Hartlepool; Kensington & Chelsea; Lambeth; Middlesbrough; Newcastle; North Down; North Yorkshire; Nottinghamshire; Oxfordshire; Rhondda Cynon Taff; Scottish Borders; Sheffield; Solihull; South Lanarkshire; Stirling, Warwick; Watford, Waverley; Wolverhampton; Ynys Mon and York.

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