Age Scotland’s election manifesto calls for an Older People’s Commissioner for Scotland

Age Scotland, the national charity for older people, launched its election manifesto which is calling on the next Scottish Government to bring forward policies to help our older population and to establish the role of an Older People’s Commissioner for Scotland to promote and safeguard human rights.

The charity believes the treatment of older people during the COVID-19 pandemic has, more than ever, demonstrated the need for politicians to speak up for older people and establish a new, independent commissioner who works to protect and promote their human rights.

Older people have been profoundly impacted by COVID-19, with issues such as the high death and severe illness rates; care home residents without access to loved ones; the removal of social care packages; blanket or inappropriate Do Not Attempt Resuscitation decisions; access to medical treatment; ageism; loneliness and isolation; access to food and shielding.

Age Scotland wants the next Scottish Government to establish an Older People’s Commissioner for Scotland, through the Scottish Parliament, who will have the power to hold public bodies to account and take up casework on behalf of older people.

A key theme of their work should be to advance and safeguard the rights of people living with dementia. They would be a key figure helping to tackle age discrimination and ageism across Scottish society. Similar to the positions in Wales and Northern Ireland, an Older People’s Commissioner for Scotland will be a direct link to government on behalf of older people.

The charity’s manifesto asks outline a number of key areas for action:

• Establish the role of an Older People’s Commissioner for Scotland
• Reform social care and establish a National Care Service
• Tackle loneliness and social isolation
• End pensioner poverty
• Build more accessible, affordable, energy efficient homes suitable for older people

Brian Sloan, Age Scotland chief executive, said: “At this Scottish Parliament election our key focus is on how to help older people be as well as they can be, tackling loneliness and isolation and promoting a positive view of ageing.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had an unimaginable impact on all our lives and for older people it has been devastating. it has drawn into sharp focus the severe challenges older people have faced.

“Older people are an incredibly valuable asset to the country but too often under appreciated. Our main ask at this election is for the next Scottish Government and parliament is to establish an Older People’s Commissioner to help protect and promote their rights. Over the last year we have seen just how important this role has been in Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, along with a cabinet secretary and minister responsible for older people, this new commissioner would be incredibly valuable.

“We also need action on tackling loneliness and social isolation; rebuilding the public services and the voluntary organisations that have been greatly impacted during the pandemic; reforming social care and boosting health services; ending pensioner poverty and health inequalities; building more good quality, accessible, affordable and energy efficient homes. There must be better support for older workers, creating age inclusive workplaces; and a national effort to tackle ageism head on.

“Scotland’s older population is growing at a faster rate than the rest of the UK. We want to see every political party in this election bring forward policies to help our older population, those in the greatest need above all, and for Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow older.”

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