Penarth Ageing Well Club members raise concerns about treatment in hospitals and transport links

Penarth Times: DISCUSSION: : Elsie Wolahan (left) and the Older People’s Commissioner’s Engagement Co-ordinator Kate Hughes (right) talk to the group DISCUSSION: : Elsie Wolahan (left) and the Older People’s Commissioner’s Engagement Co-ordinator Kate Hughes (right) talk to the group

MEMBERS of a Penarth group for older people have raised concerns about their treatment in hospitals and transport links around the town.

The Older People’s Commissioner for Wales’ team recently visited the Penarth Ageing Well Club, which aims to help older people to stay fit and active, to find their views about issues that matter to them.

Sarah Rochira’s team met with members of the club, which has become a prominent local voice and presence in the community.

During the visit they raised concerns about "not having a voice" when in hospital, the lack of respite care in the Vale of Glamorgan and buses in Penarth that "do not go near enough to many community halls and other places they would like to visit".

The Commissioner said: “While the main aim of the club is ageing well through participating in exercises and activities, alleviating loneliness and isolation, and keeping members informed on issues, it also gives older people a powerful voice.

“The group recognises that people who are 50+ are true assets to their community, having had careers and varied and interesting lives. It encourages members to share their experiences as well as having their say on the issues that affect their lives.”

The Commissioner praised the work of the committee, chairwoman Elsie Wolahan, plus Chris Collins, Patricia Shirley, Shirley Preston and Beryl Fitzjohn, whose hard work has enabled Penarth Ageing Well Club to go from strength-to-strength. It was set up less than two years ago, but membership has already grown to more than 30 people.

Group members talked to the Commissioner’s team about the issues that matter most to them. Many of these centred on the NHS, with members worried about having a voice when in hospital if they have no family to visit them and the lack of facilities for respite care in the Vale of Glamorgan.

They were also concerned about older people being seen as a homogenous group by health services and felt more consideration should be given to an individual’s needs.

Public transport is also a key issue for group members who described how buses now stop on estates around Penarth, but do not go near enough to many community halls and other places they would like to visit.

The group meets every Wednesday at Glyndwr Community Centre, from 10.30am to 12.30pm, with recent activities including a Zumba demonstration at Llantwit Major Fair, singing as part of an inter-generational choir at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff and being used as a focus group by Penarth Town Council, who garnered their strong views on local issues.

The weekly meetings also include exercise sessions involving Scottish dancing, Rubicon Dance, Zumba and Salsa. Members also take part in regular singing sessions with Goldies Cymru and listen to speakers, with recent topics including the future use of Penarth Pier and famous women from the area.

The visit formed part of the Commissioner’s Engagement Roadshow, which met with over 5,500 people at 180 events across Wales in 2013.

For further details of the Commissioner’s work or to have a member of her team visit your group or organisation, call 08442 640670 or visit www.olderpeoplewales.com.

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