Wales commissioner calls for older people’s rights

Older people deserve a specific set of rights to ensure they are treated with dignity and respect, according to the older people’s commissioner for Wales.

Ruth Marks said she heard of many instances where people were discriminated against because of age.

Examples included travel insurance premiums rising for those over 70.

An ICM poll for the commissioner suggested almost eight out of 10 people strongly support the introduction of rights for older people.

Ms Marks said she wanted the government to ensure that older people are better protected from age discrimination, with a formal set of rights being brought in to help individuals and organisations identify how it can be identified and tackled.

She said that the survey of 1,500 people of all ages, commissioned by the commissioner, shows there was “overwhelming support” for the idea.

“Age discrimination often goes unrecognised in our society because it has, in many instances, become normal to discriminate unfairly against older people,” she added.

Alun Thomas, head of policy for the Older People’s Commissioner, said around 2,000 people had contacted the commissioner’s information line with concerns about discrimination.

“We’re finding that there are specific areas, particularly in relation to financial services and in relation to health and social care where older people seem to be badly done by,” he said.

“One example relates to the fact that insurance premiums suddenly take a certain hike once an individual reaches the age of 70.

“Another example would be where on health screening programmes, people are denied the right to health screening simply because of age and no other factor.”

He said some rights were currently not being used effectively while others still had to be implemented.

He said he hoped the age equality aspects of the Equality Act 2010 would be brought in at the earliest opportunity.

The poll for the commissioner found 79% would strongly support the introduction of a set of rights. ICM interviewed a sample of 1,000 adults in Wales aged 65 and over by telephone from 18 – 25 March. A further 500 adults aged 18-64 were interviewed between 14 – 19 April 2010.