The focus on care for the elderly in the UK, it could be argued, should be at the forefront of the government agenda. Why? Well, the answer is fairly simple – people are living longer, but with age, even with the advances in medicines etc, comes varying degrees of health issues, mobility issues and the need for extra care and support. Recently, there has been a strong focus on loneliness among the elderly, also highlighting the need for a proper network of support and care for those who do not have the help of family or loved ones. According to a survey by the Family & Childcare Trust, “Across the UK, over 4.2 million people aged 75 and over live in areas with insufficient care provision.” But what exactly is being done by the government to tackle the problem of elderly care?
Well, according to the House of Commons Library online, the May government back in 2017 stated that there would be a “consultative Green Paper” published on the topic of social care in England. The Green Paper policies that have been discussed for publication include funding proposals such as a Care ISA, an insurance contribution model and tax-free withdrawals from pension pots. However, since then it has been “delayed several times” with a statement in September 2019 confirming that it would be published “in due course”, contrary to reports from the Financial Times two months earlier stating that it had been ‘ditched’ and was to be replaced by a White Paper. The Labour Party announced recently that, if were, it would introduce free personal care for the elderly. But there is still very little in place when it comes to the government taking responsibility for elderly care and support in the way that is required by many people and families.
Care homes, for example, are relied upon to be the go-to for many individuals that require access to a facility offering round the clock care and support. It is usually the responsibility of the family of the individual to research and decide on the right facility at the right price. But finding reputable, affordable care can take time.
The advantages of access to private residential care for the elderly, however, can certainly be worth it. The best care facilities will offer a full range of support services, activities and wellbeing initiatives, and provision from fully trained, compassionate staff. But not everyone can access such facilities, which is why there has been a call on the government to help people put money to one side in preparation for social care in later life. Quite often, people rely on under-funded care that doesn’t hit the mark and relied on under-paid and under-appreciated staff bases that don’t always have the correct compassion needed for the job. Again, more needs to be done. A government-based investment into residential care and support for the elderly should be an inevitability when we consider that living longer seems also to be inevitable as times move forward.
In the current political climate, however, it is important that families think ahead and plan to budget a social care fund within their savings plan. If we are to think about what we would want for ourselves as well as our families and loved ones, it becomes evident just how important setting aside a plan for social can could be to us later in life.