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By Mervyn Eastman UK BGOP director Better Government for Older People ...
By Mervyn Eastman UK BGOP director Better Government for Older People

The ageing of the population, has been regarded as a 'time bomb' - is it? Is it not rather an opportunity by realising and using their skills experience and capacity in contributing to their communities? Is it not also about breaking down a construct that says, 'older people are somebody else' and are viewed primarily as patient or clients of health and social care?

Local authorities have long had a requirement to engage their service users through community care and planning processes. Best value ensures that consultation with residents is an underpinning element, yet despite encouragement and even regulation, participation and engagement remains an 'add on'-somehow to be seen as a project, or a social care responsibility.

Unless there is a fundamental change in our thinking about age and ageing (moving away from the deficit/dependency model) to one of active citizenship then the rhetoric of engagement remains just that - rhetoric!

How far do politicians, planners and managers, actively ensure the engagement of older residents in influencing and shaping local policy and informing practice.

Better Government for Older People challenges the view of age and ageing. It seeks to encourage and facilitate the development of services that are organised and based on older people's own aspirations and needs.

The Older Peoples Advisory Group (OPAG) which is an elected national and regional body has a range of expertise in areas reflecting the quality of life of older people. It engages with local authorities and government departments in decision making and together they demonstrate how Better Government for Older People is in fact better government for all.

There are many examples of authorities who are leading the way on Older Peoples issues and BGOP seeks to highlight and profile these. BGOP is one of the vehicles available to councils and other partners to exchange ideas through the BGOP netw ork via events, workshops, website and 'Stratagem', - BGOP's quarterly publication.

Authorities that subscribe to BGOP have embraced the concept of BGOP and many have implemented strategies that recognise older people as citizens, have demonstrated a desire to place on their agenda older residents as citizens unlocking the expertise. Members learn from each other by sharing experiences of best practice.

Better Government for Older People will be exhibiting at the Local Government Assoication exhibition in Bournemouth from 6-9 July.


Better Government for Older People is a UK wide networking partnership in which older people are the key partners. BGOP is about ensuring older people are engaged as citizens at all levels of decision making in the development of strategies and services for an ageing population. This partnership provides opportunities to - influence policy and practice; develop partnerships and share information and learning.

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