The first ever COPA Summer Conference was held at the Future Inn in Cardiff on 11 June. The Conference turned out to be a great success with 60 people in attendance from all over Wales. We had information stands from Age Cymru,  Commissioner for Older People, Care and Repair and Alzheimer’s Society Wales. A press release was issued.

The Minister for Health and Social Care opened the Conference with a speech about the Welsh Government’s plans to consult on the new Strategy for Older People in the Autumn, followed by the establishment of the new Ministerial Advisory Forum on Ageing and the publication of the findings from their Review of Engagement of Older People. The Commissioner for Older People in Wales, Helena Herklots CBE gave a stirring speech about the importance of hearing the voice of older people and her priorities for the next 3 years which cover tackling ageism and age discrimination, abuse of older people and ageing well. Both speakers answered questions form delegates. A Question Time Panel of Helena Herklots, Matt Jenkins, Deputy Director, Welsh Government and Vicky Lloyd, Chief Executive Age Cymru answered questions around the future policy on funding for social care and paying for care and whether we as a society are sufficiently prepared for an ageing population. It is clear that there is still a lot to do on both of these issues.

In the afternoon we had a Workshop on the Review of Engagement of Older People when delegates were able to formulate their response to the Review in respect of Welsh Government and local authority engagement of older people and the future of 50+ Forums across Wales. The strongest calls by far were for a revitalisation of the 50+ Forums with a targeted programme of improvement and for government at all levels to listen to older people and act on what they say.

We do want to utilise the Conference as a springboard for the further development of COPA in the coming months and look at how we can reach out to Forums, particularly those in North Wales and to those not yet engaged with us. Ideas would be welcomed!