What support is the Welsh Government providing to support the wellbeing of those older people still shielding?
There is a wide range of support in place for the most vulnerable in Wales during the pandemic. This includes support for older people and for those who have either been told to self-isolate by the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect (TTP) service or who are choosing to continue to isolate from others.
This provision includes national programmes and community provision, as we recognised early on that local services are often best placed to provide a fast and flexible response to people and their particular circumstances. This combined approach has been our strategy from the start and it has proved to be an effective one.
We remain grateful to local authorities, the NHS and third sector organisations, countless volunteers, families, friends and neighbours who are continuing to provide front line support to people in need, including many older people.
The Protect element of TTP is focused on ensuring that people who have difficulty in self-isolating receive whatever support they need.
Within this overall picture there are a number of Welsh Government actions that are particularly relevant to older people and their carers.
We have provided £400,000 to fund Age Cymru’s ‘Ffrind mewn Angen/Friend in Need’ initiative that offers older people a weekly telephone call from a trained, volunteer befriender.
£800,000 has been provided for digital devices for care homes and hospices, enabling residents to access medical services, such as appointments with their GP and also to keep in touch with family and friends.
We are working closely with Age Cymru and 5 Welsh Government funded older people’s forums to involve older people in planning for the Covid 19 recovery. This year, an additional £50,000 was allocated to support this engagement.
The Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services continues to hold weekly meetings with the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales to understand and mitigate the impact of the pandemic on older people in care homes. The Ministerial Advisory Forum on Ageing continues to provide scrutiny on issues relating to an ageing society.
Additional funding of £50,000 has been allocated to Carers Wales to increase psychological support for unpaid carers and s £1m Carers Support Fund has been launched for carers experiencing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.
We are continuing to implement our all-age loneliness and social isolation strategy which we published in February and are working with an advisory group of key stakeholders to help us better understand the impact of the pandemic on loneliness and isolation.
The Welsh Government’s Looking Out For Each Other Safely and Public Health Wales’ How you doing? Campaigns both provide advice on how to stay connected to one another.
Alongside all of this we will be launching a public consultation on the Strategy for an Ageing Society on 15th December and will continue to actively seek the views of older people and the organisations which work with them to understand how we can strengthen support for older people.