Tag Archives: ageing population

Prevention is better than cure

Report image

This week’s blog is contributed by Léa Renoux, policy officer, at Age UK 

Today sees the launch of a new report on prevention and health promotion by The Richmond Group of Charities, a coalition of ten UK health charities including Age UK.

The report, What is preventing progress? was prompted by a seemingly common but worrying observation; that too many people are living with, and dying from, conditions that could have been prevented.

Nearly one in four deaths is potentially avoidable, which amounts to more than 100,000 deaths every year[i]. This is adding considerable pressure on an NHS which is already struggling to make ends meet – the rise in potentially preventable conditions is expected to increase NHS costs by £5 billion a year by 2018[ii].

For our group of charities, the answer is straightforward: prevention is better than cure.
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Government failure on accessible housing undermines independent living

Houses

In its national planning guidance the Government says:

The need to provide housing for older people is critical, given the projected increase in the number of households aged 65 and over accounts for over half of the new households’

Yet, their current review of housing standards has failed to seize the opportunity to age proof all new homes. The measures they are proposing could in fact end up restricting progress on accessible housing.  This is terrible news because accessible, well designed houses and flats give all of us the security of knowing that if our mobility is reduced, our homes make it much easier to live independently – hopefully in a location of our choice.

Instead the Government has made improved access standards for new homes an option, to be determined by local authorities. This option, known as ‘category 2’ is based on the Lifetime Homes Standard – a set of 16 criteria which make homes easier and cheaper to adapt.

This optional approach, which requires evidence of need and viability, seems to imply that life time homes should primarily be applied to retirement housing. Most of the house building industry seems to regard retirement schemes as the most sensible response to the projected growth in the older population. The implication is that if your housing becomes inaccessible, due to poor design, it simply requires you to move into retirement housing or residential care. Continue reading

A vision for the NHS

On the 23 October 2014, NHS England published its Five Year Forward View, a vision document for the future of the NHS.

The timing, and the timeline, is very deliberate: this is NHS England’s chief executive, Simon Stevens, setting his stall for next year’s general election.

Whichever party (or parties) form/s the next government will have to decide whether they take this vision on. And whether they are willing to pay for it.

This is a crucial point because Stevens has addressed the enduring taboo of money. Politicians are largely in a state of denial about the funding crisis facing the NHS, forecasted to be short by about £30 billion by 2020/21.

That’s just under a third of the annual budget of the NHS. Stevens is clear: if you want the NHS to continue providing a universal health care service, free at the point of delivery, you cannot escape the fact that more money will need to be found.

For a pre-election period, where more spending, even on the NHS, is avoided like the plague by political parties, this is the very definition of throwing down the gauntlet.

So what does the vision say? Continue reading

Ending poverty and inequality in later life

Before getting help from Age UK County Durham, Lily, 88, was having to make painful sacrifices every day due to her limited income. This meant going to bed early just to stay warm because she couldn't afford to put the heating on.

Before getting help from Age UK County Durham, Lily, 88, was having to make painful sacrifices every day due to her limited income. This meant going to bed early just to stay warm because she couldn’t afford to put the heating on.

Last week we launched our End Pensioner Poverty campaign. Joanne Sawyer, Equality and Human Rights Policy Adviser, looks at how the issue of pensioner poverty relates to human rights in the UK.

Today in the UK, 1.6 million older people live in poverty, of whom 900,000 are living in severe poverty.  Whilst the number of pensioners living on a low income has fallen considerably in recent years, progress has now stalled and pensioner poverty levels have stayed the same.  In practice, this means constant financial worries for some older people and struggles to afford basic essentials like fresh food, warm clothes, and heating during the winter.

This unequal situation persists despite the right of everyone in the UK to an adequate standard of living which includes “adequate food, clothing and housing”, whatever their age and whatever their background.[1]  The General Assembly of the UN has stated that “older persons should have access to adequate food, water, shelter, clothing and health care through the provision of income, family and community support and self-help”.[2] Continue reading