According to the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), more of us are worrying about how we will be cared for when we are older. A growing number of us have taken on the responsibility for the care of parents, but the IPPR sees a growing ‘family care gap’ developing as the number of older people in need of care exceeds the number of family members able to provide it. This gap is expected to be apparent for the first time in 2017
The huge challenge is to meet the care needs of an ageing baby boomer generation.This could increasingly continue to fall on adult children and their partners, with women being seen as the main carers and most likely to have to give-up work to take on the care responsibilities. The IPPR draws out a number of key issues which demand a rethink of how we look after each other in later life. There is the refocusing of the respective roles of state and individuals, also the widening of the narrow focus on physical and health needs to include those needs necessary to lead a decent life in older age.
Whose responsibility is it anyway?
The state though holding a pivotal role has never been the main provider, in the post-war period, of care and support for the elderly. It is family support that has carried most of the weight for this, at an estimated annual value of £55billion.
As budgets for spending on elderly care continue to be severely constrained, a recent NHS survey reveals that few of us believe government has the right social care policies. Post-war society has changed rapidly as the baby boomer generation age. More people now live alone, and family members often live far apart for both social and economic reasons. Looking forward,the IPPR in its report, is seeking to highlight solutions that place greater value on mutual support provided by resources working within families,neighbourhoods and community networks.
So finally what can be done?
In making its recommendations the IPPR,believes the post-war model of social care needs a fundamental rethink, as it does not meet the wants and needs of the elderly, nor does it it prepare society to deal with an ageing population.
A core recommendation is
- the building and development of new neighbourhood networks designed to help older people stay active and healthy, and support families find the right work care life balance.
This would work with other recommendations for
- better care-coordination and single point contact
- giving power to older people, families and carers to buy services directly using a community based ‘shared budget’
- stronger employment rights enabling carers to better able combine work and care.
You can read the full IPPR report here…