BedsLife Feb 2017 Social Care – an age old issue
Projections made suggest that between 2012-2032 the number of those aged 65-84 will increase by 39%, but over 85 year olds will rise by a staggering 109%. There will be a 60% increase amongst those of our population needing social care in the next twenty years.
How we cope with this as a society has rumbled away as a political issue for many years, but the events of this winter have moved it up the agenda, highlighting both the urgency of current circumstances, and the need for longer term options.
There is no simple answer, for there are many aspects to the difficulties, and nor is it solely a question of resource. People live differently to a generation ago. More people live on their own, more people live further away from relatives, and we have fewer multi-generational households than in the past.
On the other hand we have developed volunteering and informal social care to a dramatic degree - with 6.5m carers today, and perhaps 9m by 2037. We have new technology available to provide increasingly inventive ways in which to look after each other, saving costs and allowing resources to be spread further.
We have an immediate issue, in terms of the current crisis in social care, and a medium to longer term issue of how to increase the resources needing to be spent to cope with the anticipated increase in numbers. In the first instance I support the provision of some extra immediate finance, partly through the local tax route, and the continuing efforts being made to integrate council and NHS care, and examine why some places handle this far better than other areas. This is not passing the political buck; is does happen to be true that areas vary more than they should.
For the longer term I think we need to end the party divide, and find an agreed, grown up solution, which will mean all of us being prepared to spend more, rather than expect someone else to pay for us. How that is to be done, is of course, the trick. I’m happy to listen to your ideas!