Launching its manifesto for the General Election, the charity Age UK unveils shocking new research showing that the number of older people in England with some level of unmet need now stands at 1.5 million[i].
This means one in seven (15%) of the entire 65+ population are struggling without the help they depend on to carry out essential everyday tasks such as getting out of bed, going to the toilet, washing and getting dressed.
1.5 million is already an astonishingly high figure but the Charity warns that the situation could get even worse: it estimates that by 2030 there could be 2.1 million[ii] older people who don’t get the care and support they need, if the current approach to funding and providing care remains as it is today.
In its manifesto Age UK calls on the next Government to secure the immediate future of care through investing at least £8 billion over the next two years, as others have already recommended, including the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee whose membership includes two former Chancellors of the Exchequer.
Age UK also wants a new, much improved national care system to come into force, with the following features:
– The risk of developing a need for care is pooled on a compulsory whole (adult) population basis, funded through taxation.
– If you need care it is free at the point of use.
– There is an independent, standardised national eligibility threshold and assessment process for accessing care.
– Eligibility for care is set at a ‘moderate’ level to enable those in need of community and preventative support to get it.
– The care and support needs of sick and disabled adults of working age are included as well as those of older people.
– More support is given to unpaid carers, including help to juggle work and care and more generous welfare benefits.
– Care quality is improved by investing in the care workforce.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said:
“It is shameful that one a half million older people are living with some degree of unmet need for care, equivalent to one in seven of our entire older population. For the last few years these figures have been getting worse as governments dither over how to overhaul a system of care that everyone agrees is no longer fit for purpose. Some older people are fortunate and receive good care from committed staff which makes a huge difference to their lives, but far too many are going without the support they need to live decently and with dignity.
“If governments continue to refuse to act then our research suggests that by 2030 more than two million older people in need of care could be left fending for themselves. If you are facing a decline in your ability to do everyday things it’s hard enough if you have friends and family to help, but if you are on your own as many are then the outlook is not only depressing but frightening.”
“Care is a fundamental service on which millions of us depend and it is high time the Government took decisive action to stabilise existing provision and create a much better national system for the future. Age UK wants a new approach which makes care free at the point of use, like the NHS, because we’ve all paid into a shared national pot over our lifetimes in exchange for the reassurance of knowing we’ll get support later on in life if we need it. Not having to worry about struggling alone, or being forced to sell your home to fund sky high bills if at some point in your life you begin to need care, is a huge prize that would benefit us all.”
As well as social care, Age UK’s manifesto <link> highlights other issues that affect older people, the most in need especially, including poverty, ageism, unfit and insecure housing, loneliness and poor health. The Charity sets out a raft of policies with a view to ensuring that every older person can enjoy the dignified, secure and fulfilling later life we all want for ourselves and those we love.