Friday, February 15, 2008

It is not all rosy getting old

Age Concern (the UK charity for older people) has published yet another report telling us what we already know and will continue to ignore. I quote:
Over a million older people – including one in five people over 80 – are shut out from society and ignored by government policy, according to a new report by Age Concern. The charity is warning that severe exclusion among older people is a significant and pressing problem that will not disappear without urgent government action.
It might have been a good idea if Age Concern had updated its Web site with access to the report (but that is another subject) -it seems that the report contains loads of facts and figures confirming the serious plight of a large trance of the older society. Diagnosing the problem is really easy – the solutions are not. Age Concern comes up with a set of 'process solutions'.

Joined up high profile leadership: there must be a cross-departmental government commitment to help the most disadvantaged older people.

'Age-proof’ inclusion and renewal programmes: central and local government strategies for tackling social exclusion and neighbourhood renewal must include older people.

Re-model local services around the needs of the most excluded: local authorities should ensure their services are joined-up, user-friendly, rooted in the community and flexible enough to reach out to vulnerable older people.

I feel sorry for organisations like Age Concern. They know, or at least the people working there that I know, realise that these sorts of suggestions are about as useful as a chocolate teacup. Well, at least you can eat a chocolate teacup.

Without a real commitment, and I mean a real commitment by government, nothing will happen. OK, a couple of token schemes a bit of spin, a few speeches, photos taken outside old people's homes, but nothing that will have any real impact. Sad. Dick Stroud

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