The role of older people’s champions is constantly evolving as they do not have formal, legal powers and duties. Their impact depends on influence and on their ability to engage in partnerships, with older people, with other champions, with clinicians, social care staff, managers and voluntary organisations.
However, it is possible to identify core aspects of the role. Older people’s champions should:
- Identify, challenge and help to eradicate age discrimination
- Ensure that issues of concern for older people are always considered in local planning and decision making. Older people are more than just passive recipients of health and social care services. They have a wealth of life experience to offer the local community
- Draw attention at a national level to issues of concern that apply more widely than the local level
- Ensure that older people are always fully involved with statutory and voluntary organisations that are planning, making decisions on and delivering services that affect them
- Respect diversity and support local efforts to include the whole range of older people
- Enable effective partnerships between older people and health and social care professionals and others involved in planning or running public, private and voluntary services
- Ensure that older people are fully able to make their views known, individually and through their organisations, as appropriate. The Champion is a facilitator and an advocate for older people. They are not there to put forward their own ideas of what older people need
- Take an interest in the quality and availability of information for older people, ensuring that it is appropriate, easy to understand, free of jargon, and accessible to people who have visual or hearing difficulties, and to people who are not able to speak and/or read English with ease.
To sum up, older people’s champions have a vital part to play, not only in ensuring that National Standard Framework milestones are met, but also in anything that helps to promote a healthier and more active life for older people in their community.
City of York Council Informal Older People’s Champion
York Hospital Trust Older People’s Champion
Professor Dianne Willcocks