Council counting cost of
People in Buckinghamshire are living longer, and with that comes increasing pressures on frontline services. JO-ANNE ROWNEY finds out more
NOT so long ago people were celebrating the fact that people in Bucks live longer. In the Chilterns, women can expect to live to 86.4 years old, and men 82.2 years.
When put like that, who would not be jumping for joy?
But when you speak to health officials, social workers and those holding the purse strings, the situation is cast in a different light.
Living longer means more people to care for and more demand for services, because living longer does not automatically mean healthy, fit, sprightly people living longer.
“The last couple of years the [adult services] portfolio has changed a lot, like others across the country,” said cabinet member for health and wellbeing Patricia Birchley.
“With that there are the risks adult social care faces.”
The first is the increase in demand.
Interim service director for adult and family wellbeing, Rachael Rothero, said: “We have an ageing population, we know that.
“We need to prepare for the future.”
At the latest health and adult service care committee meeting, she explained the situation for the next 20 to 30 years.
Ms Rothero added: “Lack of resources is not a reason for not meeting statutory demand.
“This is not a new challenge. We are already as a portfolio seeing a growing increase in demand for services.”
This is not always reflected in the budget, though.
Finance business partner Adrian Isaacs said over the past four years there has been a ‘modest increase’ in budget – 2.5 per cent.
Patricia Birchley, cabinet member for health and wellbeing However, spending would cost us £66million since 1948 and putting it exceeds this when it comes per year – a significant together in a Care Act, for to the elderly – four per difference.” April 2015. cent. The government is also Ms Rothero said the
“It was possible [to cope] putting pressure on Bucks’ changes will mean the due to the savings that were services, as it completely teams will have to also care made over the same overhauls the way care is for prisoners and carers. period,” he said. “If that delivered. “We’ll need the right was the average authority it It is taking all legislation workforce for that and