The number of people requiring care in the UK is expected to outstrip the number of adult children and family members able to provide that care sometime in 2017 according to a new report released today.
“Generation Strain: collective solutions to care in an aging society” is the result of research by the respected Institute of Public Policy Research. The authors note that most care for older people in the UK is provided by family at a value estimated to be £55 billion. But with the changing demographics the number of adult children able to care for aging parents is diminishing and is expected to reach a break point in the UK in three years, meaning more dependency on already stretched state and private agencies and more people, specially women, having to give up work to look after their parents.
The central message of the report is the need to transform the understanding of what social care is in order to help people live decent lives in their old age. With insufficient adult children to provide care for parents and more older people themselves becoming carers, the needs of the carers needs to be taken very seriously – social isolation and loneliness, need for transport and shopping, for example.
The report proposes new neighbourhood networks to help people stay active and healthy and help busy families balance work and care.
These are social problems which can be mitigated, if not solved, by some of the trendy new technologies that we use daily with hardly a second thought but are often not seen as a high priority for the well being of the older person.
Other recommendations are replacement of the current case management process provided by local council adult social services, giving the older people, their families and carers direct access to some of the budget and changing employment rights so more people can continue to work and care.
A highly recommended read. The full report can be downloaded as a pdf from the link above.