Age and Experience: Consultation on a Strategy for a Scotland with an Aging Population

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1 Age and Experience: Consultation on a Strategy for a Scotland with an Aging Population Introduction The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) is a non-departmental public body, established by statute in 1999 and launched in Our goal is a 'society where disabled people can participate fully as equal citizens'. We welcome the opportunity to respond to the Age and Experience consultation, and in particular to draw out some of the clear parallels and overlaps in the disability equality and aging population agendas. An aging population is also one where the incidence of disability will increase - the average age at present of a person with a long-term illness health condition or disability is 58'. We have a number of points we would like to make in response to questions 3.1 to 3.6 in the consultation questionnaire, but before doing so would like to draw attention to some factors in which the aging population strategy and our concerns can be usefully contextualised. Context 1: The Disability Equality Duty (DED) Public authorities in Scotland are currently preparing for the Disability Equality Duty (DED) which will come into effect in December 2006". The Duty has two parts: the general and the specific. The general duty has six elements: the need to promote equality of opportunity between disabled and non-disabled people the need to eliminate discrimination the need tp promote positive attitudes towards disabled people the need to take steps to take account of disabled people's disabilities, even where that involves treating disabled people more favourably than other people the need to encourage participation by disabled persons in public life. the need to eliminate harassment of disabled people Public authorities - including Scottish Executive departments and agencies - will have a specific duty to prepare and publish a Disability Equality Scheme setting out how they will meet these.

2 duties under the Disability Discrimination Act The specific duty is the plan setting out how authorities are to meet the six elements of the general duty. Authorities will be required to set out how they will monitor and assess the impact policies and procedures have on promoting disability equality and eliminating disability discrimination. In essence, the duty requires public authorities to design out discriminatory practices at the start of any policy planning process. From 2008, Scottish Ministers will have to report on progress against the duty and Executive agencies, including those central to delivering on an aging population strategy, will have to consider how they feed into that report. Beyond the comments below, it should be emphasised that, from mapping issues and identifying solutions in the aging population strategy, through to delivering policies on the ground, the six components of the duty should be a guiding principle. It should also be emphasised that the duty requires rigorous and regular impact assessment, and the involvement of disabled people. Context 2: The Equal Opportunities Committee Disability Inquiry The Scottish Parliament's Equal Opportunities Committee will complete a lengthy inquiry into disability later this year. The DRC has contributed oral and written evidence to the inquiry which touches on many of the themes outlined in the aging population consultation document, including demographic change, discrimination, service reform and delivery, healthy aging, combating stereotypes and active citizenship" 1. The DRC has highlighted the implications of an aging population for policy makers, and has predicted a rise in the number of disabled people as Scotland's population ages. Our emphasis throughout the inquiry has been on the need for a shift in perceptions, with disabled people no longer seen as passive recipients of care and pity, but as active citizens able to participate as equals in economic, community and public life, an independent living agenda for Scotland. Independent living is defined as "all disabled people having the same choice, control and freedom as any citizen - at home, at work and as members of the community". The first step in

3 developing such an agenda has been to call for an independent living taskforce to set targets, review the evidence and develop the vision as set out in the Prime Ministers Strategy Unit Report Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People", and a change in policy-makers' view of disability, and a recognition that, unless disability is properly taken into account at the start of the policy making process, wider public policy goals around, for example, health, employment, and community safety, will fail. These recommendations find echoes in the approach taken in the aging population paper. Context 3: The Commission for Equality and Human rights (CEHR) September 2007 will see a new body overseeing equalities in Great Britain, taking over the work of the Disability Rights Commission, the Equal Opportunities Commission and, in 2009, the Commission for Racial Equality. Alongside race, disability and gender, the new commission will also have responsibility for the 'new' strands of age, sexual orientation and religion and belief. This means that for the first time, age will have a powerful statutory body working to promote and safeguard people's rights in this area. The UK government has also committed to introducing a single equality Bill to level up protection from discrimination across the six strands. This means that, in addition to the forthcoming employment regulations covering age, there is likely to be further age discrimination legislation in coming years, covering, for example, access to goods and services. Older people are therefore likely to have an increasingly robust set of rights to expect equal treatment as employees, citizens, and consumers. All this has implications for the development of a strategy for an aging population in Scotland. Question 3.1: Contribution and Opportunity Changes to working patterns and family life would suggest that there is a growing and often undervalued contribution made by older people in providing informal childcare for families where both parents work. Beyond this however, it is important not to

4 underplay the contribution made by older people to Scottish society. As is the case with disabled people, older people represent an extremely wide range of untapped skills and potentials. Beyond this is the more general tendency to see older and disabled people as passive recipients of care and charity; as, in blunt terms, drains on national wealth rather than as active, informed citizens and engines of economic growth and social capital. Independent living, with its focus on redesigning services to follow individuals through their life paths, in a way that reduces dependency and increases the potential to make meaningful choices about where and how to live one's life, is a concept which will resonate with many older people and age equality groups. The establishment of a Scottish taskforce on independent living would therefore benefit both disabled people and older people by being the catalyst for the redesigning of public services to enable rather than restrict older people's social and economic potential. Question 3.2: Work There are clear parallels between the experience of disabled and older people in the job market. The experience of Baby Boomers in a jobs market which fails to recognise their knowledge, experience and aspirations" will be familiar to disabled people who still find themselves viewed as a "risk" by many employers. As people age and acquire impairments or long-term conditions, employers' duties under the DDA to make reasonable adjustments will become increasingly important, especially in a Scotland facing skills gaps in key areas. The attitudinal barriers faced by many older and disabled people trying to get into or get on in the labour market will be increasingly damaging not just in itself, but to Scotland's economic future, unless steps are taken to address such negative stereotypes. 3.3: Services for Older People As highlighted above, the independent living agenda has clear implications for the redesign of services for older people. The emphasis for future design and delivery of services must increasingly be on transparency and personalisation. Policies such as direct payments and free personal care must be rolled out

5 equitably across Scotland and developed so that older people have the maximum choice and flexibility in deciding what support they need and when. The frustration and indignity which can result from poorly designed user pathways through, for example, the community equipment and adaptations system has been documented vl and remain a significant barrier to independent living. Question 3.4: Health and Weil-Being A study commissioned by the DRC vii predicts that Scotland's disabled population is set to rise to 22% of the total population within the next 15 years. The bulk of this increase will be amongst older people, with an additional 50,000 people aged between 65-74, and a further 50,000 people aged over 75 having a disability or limiting long term illness. The cumulative impact of manual labour - which one study suggests triggers in manual workers in their 50's health conditions usually associated with those in their late 60's vl " - as well as poverty and poor diet will only exacerbate this situation unless positive steps are taken now both to promote healthier workplaces and lifestyles, and also to tackle Scotland's fundamental inequalities. Older age should not however be so negatively associated with poor health - much can be done to promote good health amongst older people, but this will require a focussing of resources and effort from the NHS towards these groups. Central to this is older people's active involvement and investment in their own health and a change in perception amongst medical practitioners away from viewing older people, and disabled people, as passive recipients of care. Simple economics suggest that Scotland cannot sustain these projected levels of dependency, so the promotion of an active and healthy older age is not just desirable, but imperative. The perception and acceptance of older - and disabled - people as passive non-citizens also causes immense damage to people's mental health. As stated above, the DRC believes that the active pursual of an independent living agenda, which seeks to maximise disabled and older people's social and economic potentials, is central to the Scottish administration's successful achievement of targets around poverty, employment, health, and social cohesion. Both older and disabled people have much to contribute to Scottish society and that contribution will both enrich the nation and protects its citizens from poor mental health caused by isolation, poverty and neglect.

6 Question 3.5: Housing Transport and Surroundings There are again clear parallels between the disability and age agendas for these questions. Devolved housing legislation makes it easier for disabled people in the social and private rented sectors to make adaptations to their homes - this is welcome, but there is still work to do to ensure that disability equality is mainstreamed into thinking about the built environment. The Planning Etc. (Scotland) Bill places consultation at the heart of the new planning system in Scotland, but it will be important to develop means of ensuring that the needs of older and disabled people are given sufficient weight. The Bill also has provisions to require access statements for certain types of development: this again is potentially welcome in encouraging due recognition of the needs of disabled people early in the planning process. The introduction of concessionary bus travel for older and disabled people in Scotland is welcome, but does not address the physical and attitudinal barriers many people still face. Older people will be unable to take advantage of increased economic or social opportunities if they cannot rely on safe, accessible and reliable public transport. The National Transport Strategy - which is currently being consulted on - places a welcome emphasis on meeting the needs of equality groups across Scotland, but this will need to translate into concrete policy at the Regional Transport Partnership level. Without a clear strategic focus, the needs of older and disabled transport users could easily be overlooked in the rush to meet other targets. The recently published Regeneration Policy Statement* makes a number of valuable points about the economic, environmental and social benefits of effective regeneration policy and makes explicit reference to the equalities aspects of the regeneration agenda. The links to the aging population strategy should be drawn out - and the concerns of older people around isolation, anti-social behaviour or fear of crime given due recognition in the planning and regeneration agendas. Question 3.6: Other The final question which requires consideration is that of the links between disability, age and poverty. There are clearly mutually supporting factors which need to be addressed if pensioner poverty and poverty among disabled people are to be tackled: 33%

7 of older smaller households with one or more disabled people live on less that 10,000 per annum; this figure rises to 68% for single pensioner households where the householder is disabled x. While recognising that pensions and welfare reform are reserved policy areas, there is a need for further consideration of the devolved policy drivers - e.g. free personal care, public service reform - which could tackle the interplay of age, disability and poverty. While doing so is unlikely to be cost-neutral, the human and economic cost of consigning growing numbers of older and disabled people to lives on or below the poverty line will prove increasingly difficult to justify legally, morally, or economically. Disability Rights Commission June 2006 ' General Register Office for Scotland, Scotland's Census29 April 2001, 2003 " The Scottish Code of Practice for the DED can be found at: '" The DRC's written and oral evidence is available at IV areas/disability B262260B10F.asp VI VII Scottish Council Foundation/DRC Disability in Scotland : A State of the Nation Report, 2006 Vl " Figures from University College London, Institute for Fiscal Studies and National Centre for Social Research, cited in Scottish Council Foundation/DRC, Disability in Scotland IX Scottish Executive, People and Place, March 2006

8 x Scottish Household Survey, cited in Scottish Executive, Social Focus on Disability

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