UK woefully underprepared for ageing society - report
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Care and Support and also in Central Government, Communities, Health, Housing
UK woefully underprepared for our ageing society - reportImage: Older People via Shutterstock
Older people have backed calls for better political representation as a new report reveals the impact of the failure to address the UK's demographic change.
Neglect, loneliness and inadequate care funding are just some of the reasons why older people's charity Anchor is issuing a call to transform the way services are planned and designed for older people.
The case for change is set out in its recently published Grey Pride Manifesto, which supports growing calls for a minister for older people.
The report found that 77% of over-65s agree that one individual in the cabinet should be dedicated to the needs of older people.
Support for such a role is also prominent among younger people, with 62% of 18 to 34 year olds backing such a move.
The research, which was commissioned by Anchor, shows that young people and over-55s agree social care funding and adequate care for older patients in the NHS are the main concerns for later life.
Some of these issues outlined in Anchor’s manifesto include:
• Institutional ageism in health - Older people’s hospital wards regularly have one nurse for 10.3 patients on average, well below Royal College of Nursing recommendations for safe care. On children’s wards the ratio is one to 4.6 patients.
• Lack of appropriate retirement housing - 58% of over 60s who want to move say they can't because of a lack of supply of retirement property.
• Care in crisis - Over the past four years, social care budgets have been cut by 26% despite a 14% increase in demand for support.
• The dysfunctional relationship between health, social care and housing - In 2012-13, patients spent 833,000 days longer in hospital than necessary because of delayed transfers.
• Mobility and transport - Older people face a disproportionately high incidence of fatalities or injuries caused by road accidents or while using public transport.
• Retirement, older workers and the workplace - Ageism in the workplace if widespread - 41% of young people say there are not enough jobs for older people to be in work.
• Technology and the internet - 70% of over-65s do not have access to the internet.
Anchor chief executive Jane Ashcroft CBE said: "We are in desperate need of a better response to our ageing society – for the benefit of the older people of today and tomorrow. Successive governments have failed to address these issues and without radical change we face an old age of increasing polarisation, suffering and loneliness.
“It is for this reason we are calling on government to appoint a minister for older people in the cabinet who can lead the cross-departmental approach, as well as a commissioner for older people to champion older people’s needs.
"We are not calling for a new ministry to be created – we would like to see an existing cabinet role expanded to address critical issues that require debate at the highest level.”
Annie Ashby, 78, who lives at Anchor’s St Johns Court, said: “Representation at ministerial level for the ever-growing percentage of older people in our society is not only vital, it has become essential and because the ageing population is a challenge to us all, I am delighted that calls for change are now coming from younger people also.”