Guest blog: What burden of ageing?

This guest blog was contributed by Rob Greig, Chief Executive at the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi)

The area of government policy that has continually depressed me the most (and I’m talking successive governments here) is that around older people and ageing. What we at NDTi call the ‘demographic dialogue’ of public policy and the media creates a culture whereby older people are seen as a problem and a burden on society.

Read almost anything from government policy, think tanks or the national press and you will see older people being described negatively. They are ‘bed blockers’ in hospitals, creating a ‘financial precipice’ in public finances and the cause of a pension system crisis that means younger people will have to work longer. Older people are portrayed as being the cause of problems that government and society have to address.

I beg to differ.  There are 3 fundamental flaws in this perception of older citizens:

  • It sees older people as primarily passive recipients of services provided by the state or wider society, denying or even discouraging their capacity to continue to give to the communities around them.
  • The service and cost modelling is substantially based on an assumption that we will do the same in the future as we have done in the past – rather than explore more innovative options that could change the financial parameters
  • It conveniently appears to forget the contributions that people have made to society, through their work, taxes, caring and creativity. Is it too old-fashioned to still think that society may have some obligation in the form of ‘pay-back’ time that should argue against using the language of burden?

I will put the third point to one side as it is primarily influenced by values and opinions and instead focus on the first two – and tell you about Ted.

Continue reading “Guest blog: What burden of ageing?”

Government announces care costs cap

This blog was contributed by Caroline Abrahams, Director of External Affairs, for Age UK. 

Last year’s White Paper and draft Bill make these encouraging times for social care, for decades a Cinderella service. What has been so obviously lacking though is the funding for a better system, so today’s announcement about the implementation of ‘Dilnot’ is a welcome step forward.

Unfortunately, implementation has to wait until April 2017, so very few older people living in a care home now will benefit, but at least some of those who come after them will: the Government estimates that 1 in 6 older people who need care will gain, but by just how much and over what timescale is hard to tell without detailed modelling which the Government has not (yet) released.

Continue reading “Government announces care costs cap”

UK life reimagined

A demographic revolution is under way, with more of us living longer than ever before. Fifty years ago there were nearly 20 million people in the world age 80 or over; now that figure stands at about 105 million, and it’s rising fast. Many – though not enough – of our older population are in good health and will retire with a decent income and a strong social network, and many have much to offer society.

The timing of the debate around the aging population in the UK is then 440px_older_carers_handsperhaps unfortunate, held as it is against a back­drop of a beleaguered economy. Since the Coalition Government came to power we have seen cuts to government services and working-age benefits and a further £10 billion reduction in welfare to come. Against this context there is a perception that older people have fared better than most other groups but media commentary suggesting that today’s older people belong to “the lucky generation” obscure the enormous variations that exist. This is particularly stark in terms of poverty and wealth – fewer than half of all retirees have an income big enough to pay income tax.  Older people’s median income lev­els remain lower than those of the population as a whole. Continue reading “UK life reimagined”

Dignity in Action Day 2013

The first of February marked Dignity Action Day, an annual opportunity for health and social care professionals and members of the public to raise awareness of people’s rights to dignity. There are over 40,000 Dignity Champions across the country who believe care services should be compassionate and person-centred. The Champions pledge to challenge poor care and act as good role models.  Dignity Action Day, organised by the Dignity in Care Network, is a time where local communities can come together to hold events and activities that promote and celebrate dignity.

Many organisations around the country marked Dignity in Action day. Just one example is Islington Age UK. Andy Murphy CEO of Age UK Islington was one of440x210_holding-hands the judges for Islington Council’s Care Worker Award.  The Care Worker Award recognises and showcases the work of formal care staff and contractors who provide a dignified service to residents. 18 finalists were nominated by Care Managers from across Islington with the winner announced on Dignity Action Day. Continue reading “Dignity in Action Day 2013”

Does the Chancellor realise that care can’t wait?

On Wednesday 5 December, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, will be giving his Autumn Statement to Parliament. After the Budget, it is one of the most important events in the Chancellor’s calendar. He will be explaining the current economic situation facing the country and will detail some of the Government’s plans for the future.

This is the perfect opportunity for the Chancellor to show that the Government is serious about tackling the crisis in social care. Back in July, we saw the White Paper, Caring for our future, which set out a range of proposals to radically reform the social care system. These included a minimum eligibility threshold, more rights for carers and reinforced by media reports , a commitment to the principle of capping the cost of care, to name just a few.

AgeUk at the Treasury with George Osborne MasksShould these proposals be implemented, they have the potential to make a huge difference to older people who rely on social care to live with dignity. However, the Government have yet to explain how they plan to fund these proposals, risking the whole process being kicked into the long grass. Continue reading “Does the Chancellor realise that care can’t wait?”

Living well with long-term conditions

Last week Age UK hosted a conference that looked at the significant role that the voluntary and community sector plays in managing long-term conditions and what role it can play in the future in partnership with the NHS and social care. This was a great opportunity to bring together clinical commissioning groups, local authority commissioners and voluntary sector ogranisations to consider the reality of the daily life for people that are living with long term conditions, discuss policy aspirations and share examples of positive practice in helping people live well and manage their own health.

For Age UK the issue of long-term conditions is tremendously important.

  • At any one time 65 per cent of people in hospital will be over the age of 65.
  • In the UK an estimated 4 million older people in the UK have a limiting longstanding illness and if nothing is done to address age-related disease there will be 6 million people with a long-term illness or disability by 2030.

If the Government is committed to making the NHS more effective and efficient it has to adapt for an ageing society. Without addressing this issue we believe that is it unlikely that reform of the NHS will be truly successful. We were therefore delighted that the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, spoke at the conference showing the commitment of the Department of Health. Continue reading “Living well with long-term conditions”

Sheltered and retirement housing – ‘Making it Work for Us’

Age UK has launched a new report on sheltered and retirement housing ‘Making it Work for Us’, coinciding with a meeting of MPs and Peers to discuss reforms to leasehold housing. The complexity of leasehold agreements in retirement housing makes some older people vulnerable to financial exploitation – an issue we address in our report. Older residents tell us they are increasingly concerned about lack of transparency in leasehold contracts, particular in regard to service charges.

To produce the report Age UK supported a panel of older residents to look at how sheltered and retirement housing could be improved. Most of the residents were positive about what retirement housing could offer, but had concerns about a failure to address issues around bad practice.

Why is this so important? Currently only a very small percentage of older people actually live in retirement housing; the vast majority live in ordinary mainstream housing. Yet there is a growing interest in the role of retirement housing in freeing up larger family homes for younger people.  Achieving this is difficult when there just isn’t enough affordable, well designed retirement housing in the right locations to make a real difference. Continue reading “Sheltered and retirement housing – ‘Making it Work for Us’”