Harrow Council for Justice
a campaigning national organisation - promoting the principle of 'different but equal'

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Although there has been heightened awareness of the need for governments to engage with older citizens when formulating and delivering its policies and services, there is a gap in the knowledge of effective models for active engagement.

It is within this context that the HCJ, in an open letter to the Council chief executives and leaders, has enquired about the local authorities practice towards active, inclusive and ongoing engagement and partnering with older citizens in the community.

The HCJ is particularly interested in the authorities process and success in identifying effective participatory models in the context of their local demographic profiles.

As the Audit Commission's Comprehensive Area Assessment which included older citizen engagement as one of the evaluation criteria has been abolished, the HCJ is interested to find out how the authorities evaluate the quality of their performance in this area of the work!

Across the UK, the policy push to give older people a voice in local service planning can be traced back to the 1990 NHS and Community Care Act, which required statutory agencies to shift from being providers of a fixed set of services into a much more locally responsive commissioning role.

The issues which directly affect the mass of retired people include:  ageism, council tax, pensions, transport, the street environment, safety, care charges, and rationing of health services.

A number of continuing barriers to older people’s meaningful engagement include: ageism, lack of confidence amongst older people, fear of recriminations, lack of belief amongst staff, professional language and jargon, professionals believing issues are too complex for older people; and costs - time and money.

Note: The HCJ wishes to warmly thank the councils which have shared their engagement with older people arrangements. There are many good practices but the one that shines out is the Engagement in Lewisham. Well done Lewisham!

   

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The HCJ is not under the influence of any political party nor it is in the business of promoting councillors or other elected representatives but it shares its analysis of socio-political and economic situations with voters to help them to make well informed democratic choices.

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