Se­nior care sec­tor must get its act to­gether

The Jewish Chronicle - - JC SPECIAL -

HAVE WE reached the tipping point in el­derly care pro­vi­sion? With NHS and so­cial ser­vices re­sources at full stretch and our de­mo­graph­ics going through un­prece­dented change, el­derly care is com­ing un­der the spot­light. Since the mid-2000s, the pro­por­tion of over-65s in the pop­u­la­tion has in­creased by 21 per cent and that of over-85s by 31 per cent. Over-65s ac­count for 11.6 mil­lion of us (17.8 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion).

In the five years up to 2020, the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion is ex­pected to rise by three per cent but for over-65s, that fig­ure is 12 per cent; over-85s, 18 per cent and cen­te­nar­i­ans, 40 per cent. The Of­fice for Na­tional Sta­tis­tics has fore­cast that, by 2039, nearly 30 per cent of us will be aged 60 or over, with more than one in 12 ex­pected to be aged 80 or more.

Gov­ern­ment se­lect com­mit­tees have heard ev­i­dence from ex­perts ad­vo­cat­ing a rad­i­cal change in how care is de­liv­ered, to en­sure the older gen­er­a­tion is pro­tected.

“Peo­ple want bet­ter sup­port for longterm el­derly care plan­ning, with a fully in­te­grated ap­proach,” says Suzanne Gul­shan from Ro­main Cole­man, a Lon­don firm of solic­i­tors spe­cial­is­ing in co-or­di­nat­ing el­derly care needs.

“Look­ing af­ter the care needs and fi­nan­cial af­fairs of loved ones as they grow older presents a com­plex, sen­si­tive set of chal­lenges. Too of­ten this in­volves hav­ing to deal with sev­eral dif­fer­ent, un­con­nected or­gan­i­sa­tions, which can be a stress­ful, emo­tional and pro­tracted process for pa­tients, car­ers and their fam­i­lies. There has to be a bet­ter way.

“We know there needs to be a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of care pro­vi­sion to meet the vary­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties of el­derly loved ones. Of course that means aim­ing to im­prove public health ser­vices but, with lim­ited re­sources, it’s a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion for the pri­vate sec­tor to take a role by of­fer­ing ser­vices that the older pop­u­la­tion really needs.”

While the in­ex­orable rise in the el­derly pop­u­la­tion cre­ates ad­di­tional pres­sure on public fi­nances, the work­ing pop­u­la­tion is sub­si­dis­ing yet more ex­pen­di­ture on care ser­vices and pen­sions. The big ques­tion is whether it is sus­tain­able.

An In­sti­tute of Fis­cal Stud­ies re­port, pub­lished last month, states nearly £3 in ev­ery £10 spent by gov­ern­ment goes on health, so­cial care and ben­e­fits to those with poor health or dis­abil­i­ties. It warns that growth in Depart­ment of Health spend­ing is un­likely to rise suf­fi­ciently to cope with the de­mands of the age­ing pop­u­la­tion.

Where does this leave the care in­dus­try and fam­i­lies seek­ing in­te­grated so­lu­tions to el­derly care?

Ad­vi­sory ser­vices such as that of­fered by Ro­main Cole­man and other law firms would not be a panacea. As far back as 2011, the Dil­not Com­mis­sion con­cluded that the so­cial care sys­tem was in­ad­e­quately funded and peo­ple were not re­ceiv­ing the sup­port they needed.

The vul­ner­a­ble and less well-off will still need ac­cess to NHS-funded con­tin­u­ing health­care pack­ages. Even peo­ple who have set aside funds for long-term care are not ex­empt from the frus­tra­tion of hav­ing to or­gan­ise it all them­selves: ar­rang­ing le­gal doc­u­men­ta­tion with solic­i­tors, ob­tain­ing home­care ser­vices (from al­lied health pro­fes­sion­als to do­mes­tic clean­ers), or check­ing out care homes with­out really know­ing what to look for.

Ac­cess to one-to-one, ded­i­cated sup­port to co-or­di­nate all as­pects of longterm care may pro­vide some much­needed control and so­lace for el­derly peo­ple and their fam­i­lies.

As Suzanne Gul­shan says: “If we pro­vide pa­tients and their fam­i­lies with le­gal and fi­nan­cial so­lu­tions to help them make the right choices, they can achieve bet­ter out­comes for long-term care.”

By 2039, nearly 30 per cent of us will be age 60-plus’

Even if you have saved enough to pay for care, there is a vast, com­pli­cated world of providers and re­sources out there

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