UK elderly care issues are becoming increasingly pressing as the population ages and life expectancy increases. More people require care in old age, and the cost of care is rising steadily.
Care in CrisisThe baby boom, improved healthcare and longer lives mean that the UK has an ageing population. More and more people will need support to live comfortably in old age, but social care is in crisis. Years of under-funding coupled with increased demand mean that too many people may be unable to get the care they need to continue to live safely and with dignity. Disease, disability or dementia can all make it difficult to continue to live an independent life. Everyday tasks, like cooking, cleaning, washing or using the bathroom can become increasingly challenging. With the right help and support people can continue to live well, but getting that care can be tough. Age UK estimate that spending on social care has fallen in real terms by around £770 million since 2010, leading to problems accessing care. And they estimate that around 1.2 million older people are having to struggle alone. ‘Age UK hears too many stories from older people who are unable to access the services they need, experience poor quality care, or have to face alarmingly high costs to pay for their care.’
How has it come to this?It’s all down to too little cash spread amongst too many people. Austerity and cuts have led to big decreases in public spending on social care for the elderly, at a time when demand is at its greatest. Despite the 2014 Care Act, there can be big differences in funding between local authorities, leading to a postcode lottery. This unmet need is placing enormous pressure on unpaid family carers. Theresa May has said that she intends to ‘put the state-funded system on a more secure and sustainable footing.’ But with the challenges of Brexit and financial constraints, will she be able to keep to her word? The chancellor didn’t even mention social care in the recent budget, despite estimates that local authorities are spending up to 30% less in this vital area. The Nuffield Trust, the Health Foundation, and The King’s Fund have estimated that there will be a £2.5 billion gap in care funding by 2019. The Government have promised a green paper on the subject next year and we can only hope it will provide answers.
Find out more about the green paper and the dementia tax.