Published on 22 August 2013 09:30 AM
Independent advocacy services need to be sustainable’, says Age Cymru.
Campaigners are calling on the Welsh Government to provide services that give older people a voice and control over their lives.
Age Cymru wants to see a commitment to giving older people access to ‘independent advocacy services’ in the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill.
The call comes as the charity launches a report into the availability of advocacy services across Wales, called ‘Advocacy Counts 4’.
Age Cymru’s Safeguarding Manager Louise Hughes, explains:
“Our research shows that there has been a welcome increase in the number of trained advocates working in Wales in the last two years.
“However, the number of advocates overall remains low.
“Only 124 staff and volunteers are available to provide independent advocacy support to older people who need it across the whole of Wales.
“The main reason for the increase is major funding from the Big Lottery, which has enabled people with specific needs such as dementia, housing issues and disabilities to benefit from advocacy services.
“Whilst this is very welcome, many of the projects funded are concerned about what will happen when this funding comes to an end over the next two years.
“Independent advocacy services need to be sustainable as they are extremely important for older people, especially those who are at risk of abuse.
“This is why Age Cymru is calling on the Welsh Government to include robust duties to deliver access to independent advocacy services in the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill.”
‘Advocacy Counts 4’ suggests that of the 23 advocacy projects in Wales, over the next 12 months:
• Six advocacy projects will see their funding end;
• Seven do not know their future funding arrangements;
Age Cymru is launching ‘Advocacy Counts 4’ during a visit to Age Cymru Swansea Bay’s advocacy project by the Deputy Minister for Social Services in Wales, Gwenda Thomas AM.
Gwenda Thomas Deputy Minister for Social Services says:
“I welcome this report and the increase it shows in advocates for older people in Wales since 2011.
“This is a move in the right direction but there is still more to do.
“ I issued a written statement in June to set out my vision for the future framework of advocacy in Wales, building on existing and strengthening existing arrangements.
“I have considered evidence on advocacy from Age Cymru, the Older People’s Commissioner, the scrutiny of the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Bill, and the Children’s Commissioner.
“It makes a compelling case on the benefits that advocacy provides in assisting people in making decisions about their care and what matters to them.
"The framework will give people more voice and control to ensure they can maximise their care and wellbeing.”
Gwenda Thomas is calling in to see the Safeguarding Older People Regional Independent Advocacy Service at Age Cymru Swansea Bay’s offices in St Helen’s Road.
The project works with older people to help them make their own decisions, have their voices heard and protect them from abuse.
The Safeguarding Older People Regional Independent Advocacy Service is a collaboration between Age Cymru Swansea Bay, Age Concern Morgannwg and Age Concern Neath Port Talbot.