Auto-enrolment is rolling out

October 1st, the day Auto-enrolment started, may just have signalled a revolution in how we save for  retirement. By 2017 every business will have to automatically contribute to and enrol all staff over the age of 22 who earn more than £8,105 into a workplace pension. When it’s fully up and running, it’s hoped that  six to nine million more people  will have a private pension.  At Age UK, we sincerely hope it will be the nudge some people need to start saving.

Just 2.9 million people paid into a workplace pension last year, an all- time low and a deeply disturbing trend when combined with rising life expectancy. Yet more people are living longer after retirement than ever before, many of them struggling on a basic state pension  of around  £107.

Auto-enrolment is an important first step in reform, helping people begin to build up a nest egg for later life . But in order to fully live up to its potential, the Government has to  go further and faster.

Age UK believes  if  auto-enrolment  is to appeal more widely, particularly to those on low incomes, the Government must deliver its commitment to a flat rate pension . This should alleviate the concerns of those who fear it will jeopardise any means tested benefits they receive and give them a better idea of how much money they should expect at retirement, encouraging them to save.

Continue reading “Auto-enrolment is rolling out”

Action event on improving dignity in care for older people

Today Age UK along with the NHS Confederation and LGA is hosting an action event on improving dignity in care for older people.   The day will give practitioners, commissioners and service representatives from across the health and social care sector a chance to get further involved in ensuring the delivery of dignified care.

The action event is following on from the Commission on improving dignity in care for older people in hospitals and care homes – the final report can be viewed here.

Discussions today will help us to ensure that the long-term action plan we are developing with our partners at the NHS Confederation and the Local Government Association is informed by those commissioning, providing or receiving care.  This plan will focus on working with our members and partners across health and social care to support delivery of the Commission’s recommendations.

The event will include a keynote speech from Sally Brearley, Chair of the Nursing and Care Quality Forum in the Department of Health. There will also be an overview of the Commission’s recommendations on improving dignity for older people in hospitals and care homes, this will provide opportunities to comment on how the Commissioners believe these now can be implemented. Continue reading “Action event on improving dignity in care for older people”

Party conferences 2012

As this year’s conference season commences, we’re clear about what the Government should be focussing on for older people: A firm commitment to Dilnot and social care reform, and the publication of a white paper and bill to introduce a flat-rate single tier pension.

Care is in crisis with many of those who need help and support in later life being badly let down by a faltering system, while others find themselves having to sell their homes in order to pay for the support they need. Of the 2 million older

Age UK’s party conference stand

people in England with care-related needs nearly 800,000 receive no support of any kind from public or private sector agencies.  At the same time, the legal framework of the social care system is not fit for purpose. There is a range of legislation, case law and guidance leading to a legal maze that fails to give people the support and clarity they need at what is often the most vulnerable times in their lives.

Age UK has therefore very much welcomed the Government’s White Paper and draft Care and Support Bill which were published in July. Together, we believe they have the potential to significantly improve the quality of care available and help create a care system that is fairer and more straightforward for older people and their families. Continue reading “Party conferences 2012”

Guest blog – Who uses telecare?

This blog was contributed by James Lloyd, Director of the Strategic Society CentreJames Lloyd was appointed Director of the Strategic Society Centre in September 2010. He has a particular interest in social care, pensions, financial services, as well as individual and societal ageing.

The Strategic Society Centre recently published a big piece of statistical research about “who uses telecare?”

‘Telecare’ describes alerting devices and related services that respond when someone with care needs living at home experiences a crisis. Although not for necessarily for everyone, telecare can help people live independently at home for longer, and can also reduce reliance on paid and family carers.

While telecare has long been tipped as an important potential part of how society adapts to people living longer, there’s also been lack of basic data about telecare users.

At the Centre, we wanted to address this, so with support from Age UK we undertook statistical analysis of data for 2008 from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

‘ELSA’ is a survey of around 10,000 people aged 50+ in England that re-interviews the same people every two years. The questions in the ELSA survey are very comprehensive, so we were able to build up a detailed picture of telecare users and their gender, health conditions, receipt of care, living situation and lots of other factors. Continue reading “Guest blog – Who uses telecare?”

Guest blog: Chorlton for All Ages

This guest blog was contributed by Matthew John Hargreaves an architecture  student at Manchester Metropolitan University.

In 2010, the Valuing Older People team at Manchester City Council was successful in their bid for Manchester to become an Age-Friendly City.  Since then they have worked in collaboration with local partners, including architecture students, to develop an understanding of what ‘Age-Friendly’ actually means in relation to the urban context of Manchester.  As part of this, VOP have been active in the Manchester Ward of Chorlton to help represent the views of older people in the area, contributing towards the development of the regeneration Action Plan that has been outlined from 2010 to 2020.

With my work, and in line with the philosophy of my unit (called msa-p) at the Manchester School of Architecture, I wanted to develop an architectural project that was as accessible as possible.  Accessible not only in terms of the physical design and features of the urban landscape, but accessible in terms of the design process and techniques used to arrive at my final proposals.  Inspired by the work carried out by VOP and driven my desire to represent those who are often excluded by architectural design processes and building developments, i.e. older and younger people, I developed architectural proposals in line with the

Chorlton consultation

Chorlton District Centre Regeneration Action Plan as a form of representation, to highlight the needs of these often overlooked or ignored age groups.

My final proposals and architectural ideas therefore can be seen as an interpretation of the Age-Friendly city concept specific to Manchester, and hope to highlight some of the issues faced by younger and older residents in Chorlton with relation to the regeneration of their community. Continue reading “Guest blog: Chorlton for All Ages”

Positive signs for care funding

Yesterday there were ripples of excitement in Age UK.  There are signs that the Government is warming to the idea of introducing a Dilnot-style cap for social care costs and, moreover, are edging towards a commitment to find the money in the forthcoming Comprehensive Spending Review. 

The turnaround is surprising – we were somewhat dismayed in July when Government indicated it ‘it support(s) the principles of the approach’ of the Dilnot Commission and that it would ‘consider various options…before coming to a final view in the next spending review’. Hardly warm words. At the time it seemed clear the political will to push forward with reform was lacking.

So while there is still no firm agreement on what a package would be, yesterday’s reports that senior ministers have confirmed they are serious about driving through reform is a major step forward and extremely encouraging.

It’s worth reminding ourselves of the benefits of the Dilnot Commission’s model, and how they would help end the current crisis in social care:

  • These proposals protect people from catastrophic care costs. About three quarters of us will have care needs in later life, half will need to spend over £20,000, but 1 in 10 people will spend over £100,000 on their care needs which can wipe out savings and force them to sell their home.
  • Older people tell us the current system makes them anxious and fearful of losing all of their hard-earned money if they are unlucky enough to need long term care. Setting a cap on what people would individually have to pay means no one faces catastrophic cost. It would also enable people to include care in their overall planning for later life, something which is practically impossible in the current system for even the most conscientious of us.

Continue reading “Positive signs for care funding”

Guest Blog: The involvement of ‘older people’ in research and other projects

This guest blog was contributed by Bill Bytheway, Visiting Research Fellow at the Open University, and author of Unmasking Age (Policy Press, 2011).

On page 124 of my book, ‘Ageism’ (1995), I attempted to describe how ‘a room for older people’ might admit anyone, regardless of age, on the basis of self-definition. I argued that it would be perfectly feasible and acceptable for anyone to enter it, and request services designed to assist ‘older’, rather than ‘younger’, people. In making the case, I remembered a woman of 55 who lived on her own and was in hospital with a broken leg. At the time (the mid-1980s) I was working for a hospital discharge scheme that focused exclusively on patients aged 65 or more. ‘Is there any help available to people like me?’ she asked. It was this simple question which made me realise how ageist all forms of age bar are, no matter how well-intentioned.

The RoAD (Research on Age Discrimination) projectwas undertaken between

The research team and field workers from the RoAD project

2004 and 2007 by a team based at the Open University, working in collaboration with Help the Aged. When we were planning the project, we decided to involve older people at all stages and in all roles and that, in implementing this aim, we would not impose any age bars. No one would be deemed too old or too young to take part. The only requirement was that participants should understand that they were involved, possibly amongst other things, as ‘older people’.

Continue reading “Guest Blog: The involvement of ‘older people’ in research and other projects”