This blog is open to members of the SOPA Committee and others and offers an open space for personal perspectives on topical issues to stimulate debate. The views expressed are independent of SOPA and are not endorsed by SOPA. See Chair Tom Berney's column in Newsletters and the Annual Report for official SOPA policy statements.


Musings at the start of 2016

by Val Bissland - 00:09 on 05 January 2016

a new dawn: sunrise over north glasgowIf you're like most people, you’ve probably a notion of some goals for 2016 or at least intentions for the year. I like to have both goals and intentions. The goals are usually things to achieve simmering on the back boiler of my mind, but I also set intentions such as becoming less self-centred, more forgiving, more optimistic, less judgmental and the like.

I take time to think these things through because I know my state of mind impacts on my energy levels to achieve goals and my productive relations with others. It is so easy to drift towards negativity and scepticism and see the world out there as flawed and hopeless, because often these are the features amplified by the press and media. It is important not to forget what has been achieved at this stage of Scottish life through the optimism and drive of ordinary people over the years who believe things can be improved.

In Scottish society we now have a commitment to human rights which, when fully implemented into Scots law, will safeguard older and disabled people, and make entitlement to support a right defined by law. There is also an awareness that people need early support before they hit a crisis to avoid expensive interventions that waste public resources. This support needs to be person-centred, so the locus of control remains in the person’s hands with coordinated health and social services. The basic need for a decent affordable house/home in your neighbourhood and also sufficient income to heat and maintain it, feed, clothe yourself and get out and about are paramount.

A commitment by Government to a non-means-tested fair income for all adults regardless of age would filter into every corner of civic society and transform it, creating a better life for all. The work ethic would become the norm whether on a paid or voluntary basis, as long as one was able. This would banish the inequity of older people having to spend their savings to buy basic support and undermine the long-held desire of most people to pass on what assets they have to their nearest and dearest, or leave a legacy to a relative, friend or to a good cause. 

The above ideas are in line with the Campaign for a Fair Society (Scottish Manifesto) and reflect many of the action points that arose at the Scottish Older People’s Assembly in October 2015, such as funded programmes for active citizenship for older people, older representatives on all Joint Integrated Boards, and care in a home and ‘at home’ linked to the community to improve everyday life.  We are voting this year for a new government. Check out the parties’ plans for a fair income for all and how they aim to achieve it before you cast your vote.

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