The Commissioner and his team work on a number of different areas in order to safeguard and promote the interests of older people.

 

The Commissioner's main priorities

The Commissioner has formed draft priorities for action for his term, taking into account the issues identified through research, casework queries directed to the COPNI office and from speaking with older people.

These will be a main focus for the office during the Commissioner's term. You can find information on the Commissioner's main priorities here.

 

Advocacy and legal support for older people

The Commissioner for Older People provides assistance to individual older people who need advocacy or legal support. 

The cases that the Commissioner deals with directly are tested against strict case acceptance criteria as the Commissioner's legislation does not allow him to duplicate the work of another public authority. However, where an older person is having problems dealing with a public authority the Commissioner can advocate on their behalf.

This is done in a number of ways such as:

  • Writing letters or making telephone calls on behalf of an older person

  • The Commissioner’s legal officers can attend meetings in an observer, advisory or advocacy role.

  • The Commissioner can provide direct legal assistance in cases involving older people and service providers (public authorities) that are of a strategic interest to older people.

  • When older people have experienced difficulties with public authorities the Commissioner can also encourage the use of or provide access to alternative dispute resolution.

For more information on how the legal team assist older people please click here

The Commissioner’s team also signpost a lot of enquiries to the right agency or organisation that provides the most relevant assistance. Almost half of the calls received are referred to Benefits Agency, Health Trusts and other advice agencies. Contact details for many of the agencies and organisations which the Commissioner's office deal with can be found here.

 

Engagement with older people across Northern Ireland

The Commissioner and his Senior Management Team undertake a wide ranging programme of engagement with older people and with groups that represent them. 

These are valuable opportunities for the Commissioner to meet with different older people from all backgrounds across Northern Ireland in order to hear about what matters most to them. 

For a list of the Commissioner's recent engagements, please click here.

 

Informing policy makers and Government

The Commissioner provides advice to Government on a range of issues, many of which form his key priorities.

The Commissioner and his team also respond to consultation papers from public authorities on issues affecting older people. These responses aim to ensure that the interests of older people are promoted and safeguarded when policy or legislative changes are being considered. 

The Commissioner's advice to Government, reports and consultation responses can be found here

 

Speaking out for older people in the media

The media, including local newspapers, radio, television and the internet have a powerful influence on people’s attitudes.

The Commissioner regularly speaks on television, radio and print media, championing the interests of older people and commenting on a wide range of issues including:

  • Highlighting the positive contribution of older people and challenging negative stereotypes. 

  • Championing the rights of older people to the services, support, respect and equality that they deserve.

  • The need for service providers and Government to be accountable for the decisions they make in planning and delivering services and support for older people.

  • Transport

  • Health and social care

  • Crime

  • Equality

  • Elder abuse

  • Financial abuse and scams

To read more about the Commissioner's voice in the media please click here.