'Listen to Older People on Health Care Changes' COMMISSIONER WARNS BOARDS TO ENGAGE ELDERLY IN PROCESS

Article excerpt

Byline: JULIA MCWATT Health Correspondent julia.mcwatt@walesonline.co.uk

HEALTH boards have been warned the views of older people must be taken into account as they push forward major reorganisation plans for services across Wales.

Older Peoples' Commissioner for Wales Sarah Rochira said she had written to all health boards to ensure older people were being properly engaged in plans to move some services into the community and would be looking for assurance that their views were given proper consideration.

Appearing before the National Assembly's health and social care committee, Ms Rochira said any changes to healthcare provision should not be to the detriment of older people and any impact on them should not be disproportionate.

Currently all health boards in Wales are engaging and consulting on proposals to reconfigure hospital services through centralisation and moving many into community settings.

But concerns have been raised about the impact of the movement of some services on older people, who may find it difficult to travel further to receive the necessary care.

Questioning Ms Rochira, Plaid Cymru AM Elin Jones, said: "I have seen good practices and appalling practices with older people and the consultation.

Is there a role for you to issue guidance for pubic authorities on how to consult with older people?" Ms Rochira said: "There were a number of concerns around service reconfiguration. The three big changes we have are on healthcare, social care and day centre care and there were huge concerns for older people, and therefore concerns for me.

"I have been very active around this. I have written to health boards saying I know these changes are going on and I understand the reasons behind them, but I outline three clear expectations - that older people are effectively engaged in what is going on, that the changes are for the betterment not to the detriment of older people and there is not a disproportionate impact on older people. …