Been in Cardiff last night and today - at the Village Hotel. It was my first day in a new job. I've been chairing the first meeting of the Welsh Advisory Board of the European Care Group. This rapidly expanding international business is involved in residential, EMI and nursing care as well as the provision of services and care for people whose lives are challenged by mental illness, acquired brain injury, learning difficulties and autism related conditions. This is a testing role for me, because it is an area of activity that is completely new. Which of course makes it all the more interesting.
This afternoon, we visited one of the European Care Group's recently acquired properties located at Porth in the Rhondda Valley. It has accommodation for around 80 and is a mix of residential, EMI and nursing beds. I was deeply impressed by the standards of care. Over the years I have visited several homes of 'mixed' quality. Ty Porth was the best that I have ever visited.
One of the reasons I decided to become involved was my longstanding concern about the way we treat old people and those suffering mental illness. This is one of the biggest problems facing Governments across the world as people live longer and we become more aware of mental problems. I was pleased to see that Jonathon Morgan has 'won' a ballot in the National Assembly to formally request a transfer of power from Westminster to Cardiff Bay (a Legal Competence Order) to reform Mental health legislation. And this morning I was listening to a Westminster Government Minister outlining plans to spend an extra 170 million pounds on mental health illness. At long last this policy area is getting the attention it desreves. I am employed only for about 6 days a year, but I expect to be spending a lot more time on this issue over the next few months.