Cymru Older Peoples Alliance – COPA – held its Annual Conference and AGM in Pontypridd on 16 November. It was organised as a fully accessible and “hybrid” event.  Apart from the Conference venue, virtual hubs for people to gather together and participate were established in Swansea, Anglesey, and Conwy, with other delegates joining from their home computers and devices.  The Conference turned out to be a great success with 65 people in attendance from all over Wales. We had information stands from Age Cymru, Care and Repair and Alzheimer’s Society Wales.

COPA Chair, Steve Milsom, addressing the conference.

We had two main speakers for the Conference. Helen Herklots CBE, the Commissioner for Older People in Wales spoke about her priorities as Commissioner. Her team have been working on these in association with organisations like COPA and included protecting and promoting Older People’s Rights and in particular the need to strengthen the rights of older people living in care homes. Helena also updated us on her campaign to stop the Abuse of Older People, ending Ageism and Age Discrimination and enabling everyone to Age Well. Other issues covered included Ensuring Access to Information and Services in a Digital Age., access to GPs and increasing Pension Credit Take up.

Older People's Commissioner Helena addressing conference from Pontypridd, and the group from Ynys Mon joining via Zoom.

We also had a presentation from Mary Wimbury, Director of Care Forum Wales who represent 500 social care providers across Wales. Mary spoke about the role of the private sector in Care, and the challenges faced. Private care providers all share the same concern: recruiting and retaining staff and paying them well. Over half of care homes in Wales are smaller organisations rather than chains. Mary also “busted some myths” about care. Mary spoke about what staff can help with, from personal care to social activities. She suggested volunteers could take their skills and hobbies into a local care home. Mary concluded that she feels people go into care work for the right reasons and provide the care they’d like to receive.

An “open Microphone” session was also held with statements made by delegates from all areas. The issues covered included age discrimination, digital exclusion, health and social acre and transport.

In the afternoon we held our Annual General Meeting. We approved our Annual Report and Accounts and ratified the appointment of Siva Sivapalan, Rachel Luxton and Gilly Davies as new Trustees of COPA.  We debated motions on Digital Inclusion, the NHS and Social Care and Transport.

Minutes of the Conference and AGM can be found here.

We do want to utilise the AGM and Conference as a springboard for the further development of COPA in the coming months and look at how we can reach out to Forums and Groups for older people, particularly those not yet fully engaged with us. Comments and ideas are very welcome!

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