Call for champion to have wider powers

    The commissioner for older people in Wales should be given
    far-reaching powers to champion their interests, older people’s
    experts have said.

    It follows the announcement last week by Welsh secretary Peter
    Hain of the government’s intention to legislate for the
    establishment of an older people’s commissioner in Wales by
    2007.

    Details of the role will be in a draft bill during the current
    parliamentary session. Hain said the commissioner “will champion
    the rights and dignity of older people, protect them from
    discrimination and prejudice and provide an input to influence
    future government policies”.

    Win Tadd, senior research fellow at Cardiff University and
    author of a report into treating older people with dignity, said
    the commissioner would need powers to investigate allegations of
    institutional abuse and impose penalties.

    She added that the commissioner should have a role in assessing
    the quality of services provided by councils, the NHS and private
    and independent providers and tackle the generational divide.

    Byron Williams, older people’s spokesperson for the Association
    of Directors of Social Services, said the commissioner would be
    essential in changing attitudes to older people.

    “The commissioner will have a key role to play in monitoring the
    reality of older people’s experiences.”

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