Lord Foulkes: Report on rights of older people must be taken seriously by this Government
Labour peer, Lord Foulkes writes about his parliamentary question on implementation of the report 'Human rights of older persons and their comprehensive care' which was adopted unanimously by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which represents the 46 countries of a wider Europe than the EU.
When I became a Trustee of Age Scotland four years ago the then Chief Executive, Brian Sloan, referred to my job as Director of Age Concern Scotland back in the 70’s and said “but you’ll have more of a vested interest in it now”!
Although I told him he was a cheeky devil, he was right. I now experience for myself a few of the problems of ageing but, thankfully, not all of the potential difficulties.
My Parliamentary Question on 11th July is equally self- indulgent because it refers to a Report adopted unanimously by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for which I was the Rapporteur. But I make no apology for pursuing it,
The Council of Europe is the body which represents the 46 countries of a wider Europe than the EU and is based on the European Convention of Human Rights.
So the Report does not seek compassion or sympathy for older persons, although that is part of the motivation but is entitled “The Human Rights of Older Persons and their comprehensive care” and looks at the subject directly in the context of human rights.
It calls on the Governments of all the countries of Europe to ensure older persons have an adequate income, appropriate housing, access to health care and any help with employment if the wish to continue.
The report refers to the hidden problem of elder abuse and asks that proper record is kept of the incidence of abuse and action taken to eliminate it.
It notes the problems caused where health and social care are administered separately in “silos” and calls on governments to integrate the administration of health and social care.
Recognising the problems that have arisen in care homes, it calls for a Charter of Rights for residents in care and a scheme of regular inspection to ensure enforcement.
But also recognising the contribution that they can continue to make to society recommends the encouragement of volunteering by older people and a positive attitude to ageing.
Equally, accepting that loneliness and isolation is the greatest problem for many older people we need more help given for visiting schemes and inter-generational projects. On my study visits I saw accommodation for students and older people together and a nursery in the same building as a day centre for older people.
But so many of these reports are produced, agreed and then lie on the shelf. So I have written to the MPs who are on the PACE Social Affairs Committee asking them to pursue it in their national parliaments and thought I had better practice what I am preaching.
But I will, of course, declare my interest!
Lord Foulkes of Cumnock is a Labour peer