Wales: Are we doing enough?
Age Alliance Wales (AAW) 2nd Annual Senedd Event
15th January 2013, Senedd, Cardiff Bay, 12 - 2pm
The Second Annual Age Alliance Wales Senedd Event was held in
the Oriel in the Senedd Building and focussed on the theme of
reablement. The event was organised in partnership with the Welsh
Reablement Alliance. Older people from across Wales attended the
event to share their experiences and raise their concerns with their AMs.                                                                           
Mark Drakeford AM, sponsor of the event, welcomed everyone to the event. In his role as
Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, he spent some time looking at home services
for older people and is aware of the importance of reablement. He expressed his pleasure at
the rare opportunity to celebrate success and thanked all the organisations involved for their
work on the ground in supporting older people. There is more to be done, but there is now
evidence of the real achievements of properly planned and delivered reablement services. 
Mark expressed his opinion that other areas of the UK will be looking to Wales in
order to learn from us.
David Pritchard spoke of his experiences of reablement services. Following a kidney operation in 2010, he was diagnosed with MRSA and put on a long course of strong antibiotics. He was declared clear of MRSA in 2011, but his immune system was at a low ebb and gangrene developed in his left foot, which led to his left leg being amputated. He made a full recovery, but was in hospital for nine weeks. It was coming up to Christmas and he was desperate to return home, but no-one had thought of how he and his wife would cope at home. Mr Pritchard did not want to be thought of as a bed-blocker, but could not return to his home until measures were put in place. On the 19th December, the occupational therapist contacted Care & Repair and within days, the adaptations had been made to his home and he was able to return in time for Christmas.
Unfortunately, in the following June, Mr Pritchard developed gangrene in his right leg and it too had to be amputated. Since then, his car has been adapted to enable him to drive and he has visited Rookwood Hospital for therapy twice a week. The support and therapy Mr Pritchard has received has enabled him to go from being a wheelchair user to walking with only the aid of sticks in 5 months.
Mr Pritchard praised the organisations involved in his recovery for their support and care. He said that they had given him back his independence.
Rob Taylor, Chair of Age Alliance Wales, thanked Mr Pritchard’s and said he found the phrase ‘bed-blocker’ deplorable – no-one wants to stay in hospital and to imply that they are deliberately preventing someone else receiving a bed is wrong.
Rob acknowledged that for many older people, later life is an enjoyable experience. Equally, many older people experience wonderful health and social care support that enables them to live in the community in the way they would choose. Unfortunately, there are still too many older people not receiving this kind of support and not being treated with dignity and respect. He reiterated Age Alliance Wales’ call for older people to have access to the information, support and services they need to maintain their independence and wellbeing, including reablement support.
After focusing on the importance of dignity as fundamental to good care, Rob moved on to detail the contribution of the third sector in providing reablement services and support to older people. He also noted that third sector organisations secure funding from other sources to add cash value to any public sector funding received. The third sector has also been in the forefront of developing preventative care services – unfortunately, there is little evidence of this approach from local government or the NHS, owing to pressure on resources.
Age Alliance Wales believes that the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill and the third phase of the Strategy for Older People provide the opportunity for a commitment to a strategic approach to maintaining health and well-being.
Rob thanked Mark Drakeford AM and Mr David Pritchard for speaking and all attendees for supporting Age Alliance Wales and the Welsh Reablement Alliance.
A full copy of Rob Taylor’s speech can be downloaded here