A recent report by Newcastle University looked at the forecast levels of frailty in the older population and reached the conclusion that there is a need for 71,000 new care home places in the next 10 years.
I don’t doubt that their figures are correct. It is just their conclusion that is wrong !
As the population ages the number of older, older people requiring some degree of support is certainly set to increase. The more critical questions are :-
- ” Where do they want to receive the care ?”
- ” Who do they want to be cared for by ?”
- ” How can they or their family pay for it ?”
The Newcastle study didn’t seek to answer these questions. They are the £64,000 questions and therein lies the problem.
I will attempt to move the discussion along:-
Firstly, most people would like to be looked after at home. This is relatively expensive and quality control is difficult. However, there are certainly psychological benefits from being in your own familiar environment. Since the State has largely totally withdrawn from this area, you have to be fairly wealthy to afford this solution.
Secondly, they want help from a stable (not ever-changing) and trained support team. People they know and trust and people who know them as an individual not just a set of tasks. For many people this may be little more than domestic help initially. Later some will need more hands on care at times during the day. They would also benefit from a regular review of their support and health needs by a nurse ideally on a monthly/quarterly basis. Preventative well-being checks have proven value.
Thirdly, paying for this kind of care at home has been under-valued by the expectation that health care is free for those that need it. It never has been free, we have all paid for it in taxes, but we have not paid enough. No one foresaw the big increase in longevity, nor the improvements in medical care that have kept us alive for longer, albeit with the frailties of old age. The good news for many older people is, they are living in an asset that has over their lives accumulated in value. Now they must use the value of their house to secure their future care and support needs.
What I have just outlined in housing and support terms is a retirement village. But to deliver 71,000 new homes would amount to around 300 retirement villages, at a capital cost in the order of £15 billion.
I will figure out how to do it in my next blog 😀