The treatment of older people during the pandemic has, more than ever, demonstrated the need for politicians to speak up for older people.

Politicians are on the campaign trail again and the Scottish election is in close sight. We recently launched “Action for Older People” outlining a range of ways the next Scottish Government and Members of the Scottish Parliament can take action to improve the lives of older people. We’re challenging political parties to bring forward policies to help older people be as well as they can be, tackling loneliness and isolation and promoting a positive view of ageing.

Older people have been profoundly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with issues such as the high death and severe illness rates; care home residents without access to loved ones; the removal of social care packages; blanket or inappropriate Do Not Attempt Resuscitation decisions; access to medical treatment; ageism; loneliness and isolation; access to food and shielding. The treatment of older people during the pandemic has, more than ever, demonstrated the need for politicians to speak up for older people and establish a new, independent commissioner who works to protect and promote their human rights.

Our main ask at this election is for the next Scottish Government and Parliament is to establish an Older People’s Commissioner to help protect and promote their rights. Over the last year we have seen just how important this role has been in Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, along with a cabinet secretary and minister responsible for older people, this new commissioner would be incredibly valuable. A key theme of their work should be to advance and safeguard the rights of people living with dementia. The Commissioner would be a key figure helping to tackle age discrimination and ageism across Scottish society. We must invest now in the services and measures that will support older people to live well in later life and make our society more age inclusive.

We also need to tackle loneliness and isolation as a national priority and include it as part of the national COVID-19 recovery plan and rebuild the public services and the voluntary organisations that have been greatly impacted during the pandemic. Nine out of ten deaths linked to this virus in Scotland have been people over the age of 65. It’s drawn into sharp focus the importance of strong communities and the severe challenges faced in social care. Age Scotland is also calling for social care reform and boosting health services; ending pensioner poverty and health inequalities; building more good quality, accessible, affordable and energy efficient homes. There must also be better support for older workers, creating age inclusive workplaces, and a national effort to tackle ageism head on.

Scotland’s voluntary sector has important asks of the parties and politicians who will make up our next parliament. There’s also a lot of shared ground and it’s great the ALLIANCE are also calling for a Commissioner for Older People. We should work together to make the case for a Commissioner, and see it established early in the next term.

Our older population is large, diverse and growing at a faster rate than the rest of the UK.  Older people are an incredibly valuable asset to the country but too often under appreciated.  That’s why we want to see every political party in this election bring forward policies to help our older population, those in the greatest need above all, with the aim of enabling more people to enjoy the dignified, secure and fulfilling later life we all want for ourselves and those we love. Let’s work together to make Scotland the best place in the world to grow old.


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