Heléna Herklots CBE, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales:
Heléna took up post in 2018 after over 30 years working on ageing and older people’s issues. Starting her career working directly with older people and their families in day centres and care homes, she has influenced public policy, campaigned for change and developed and provided support services for older people.
Prior to her appointment as Older People’s Commissioner, Heléna was Chief Executive of Carers UK, the national membership charity for unpaid carers. Experience before that includes as Services Director at Age UK, Head of Policy at Age Concern England and Corporate Strategy Manager at Anchor.
Heléna has led and contributed to a number of UK Government advisory groups covering topics including care and support, housing, dementia and carers. She also spent a year on secondment working on older people’s issues at the Department of Health.
Heléna is Chair of the UK Industrial Strategy Healthy Ageing Challenge Advisory Group and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
In 2017 Heléna was awarded a CBE for services to carers.
Age Friendly Wales: An emerging story of local, subnational and national development
David leads the Commissioner’s priority of enabling all older people to age well, delivering the Commissioner’s vision of an Age-Friendly Wales through working with local authorities to become recognised by the World Health Organisation as Age-friendly Communities. He works with individuals, organisations and communities at a local, regional and national level to support, inform and empower people to develop innovative and practical ways to enable older people to age well.
Gareth supports the development and impact of the Ageing Well Network through planning, organising and facilitating network events across Wales and developing new links with key groups. He also provides support to network members, responding to requests and queries, and represents the Commissioner at events relating to her ageing well priority. He also support the Ageing Well Lead in delivering the Commissioner’s vision of an Age-Friendly Wales through working with local authorities to become recognised by the World Health Organisation as Age-friendly Communities.
Heléna Herklots, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Great Britain
David McKinney and Gareth Rees, Ageing Well Lead at Older People’s Commissioner for Wales, Great Britain
An age-friendly city or community is a great place to grow old. Age friendly core characteristics were first defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2007, and their model has helped cities and communities around the globe to support people to age well and promote their wellbeing across all life stages. An Age-friendly community helps people to remain independent, provides care and protection when they are needed, and respects older people’s choices and dignity.
Communities that adopt age-friendly approaches to areas such as planning, transportation, housing, participation, health, and social care, can play a vital role in helping older people to remain engaged, active, independent and well. As such, Age Friendly Cities and Communities are inherently place-based initiatives, with their development involving a broad range of community members, service providers and policy makers.
Scaling the Age Friendly approach up beyond the community or city level to subnational or even national levels can bring significant benefits. Regional or national policies in domains such as transport, health and social care can create opportunities for funding and sustainability that can greatly enhance the capability of local areas to implement age friendly practice. However, it can also introduce challenges in bringing together regional and national organisations and policy makers in ways that facilitate partnership working whilst also protecting local autonomy and remaining inclusive of local community voices, especially those of older people directly.
In the current wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, people, communities and policy makers at all levels are looking towards recovery initiatives to provide opportunities and an imperative to address existing inequalities and meet new needs.
The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales has been working for several years to create a clear pathway towards an Age Friendly Wales, within which all levels of Welsh society, from communities to national governmental policy, reflect Age Friendly principles and practice. This has been through actions that generate cross-domain relationships, cross-level networks and cross-sectoral advocacy for the WHO Age Friendly model and their Global Network of Age Friendly Cities & Communities. Most recently, this has resulted in the creation of the national Strategy for an Ageing Society: An Age Friendly Wales by the Welsh Government, and a groundswell of interest from regional governments in joining the WHO network.
In Wales, this emerging story of Age Friendly development is characterised by a unique mix of national, subnational and local strategies, legislation and partnerships, which together create an opportunity to consider how these factors interact, and how this might offer actionable insight for Age Friendly developers and practitioners globally.
Through a workshop, we present the story of Age Friendly Wales so far, sharing our experiences and aspirations for the future. Using this as a case study, we invite participants to consider our context, its relevancy to their own development environment and to identify any shared opportunities, learning or barriers that may be useful more widely.