Headlines: September 27th, 2007

Responses to the needs of older people are being affected by cuts in adult care budgets of councils and by the NHS giving them a lower priority. Age Concern, the charity that supports older people, has launched a campaign to reverse this trend and to get the issue on the Government’s agenda in advance of next month’s comprehensive spending review. The charity wants to see renewed efforts by the Government to tackle poverty and social exclusion.

Over a million older people in England face severe exclusion, which stems from isolation, poor mental health, crumbling housing, and lack of access to services, activity and support. The charity argues that friendly local services, either working in the community or visiting people’s homes, can transform the lives of those who have been cut off. Community transport, impartial advice, shopping schemes, handyperson services and activity centres for older people all offer that little bit of help.

Current support is focused on the most frail and ill, but Age Concern also wants other needs to be recognised, such as a lonely widow who is depressed following bereavement. With the right help and support she would be in a better position to cope with her loss, make new friends, and take on fresh challenges. Without it, the risk is much higher that her health will fail and she will soon need expensive health and care services.

Gordon Lishman, Director General of Age Concern England said: “Disadvantaged older people are hidden behind closed doors. Their voices are often the last to be heard by policy makers and service providers as older people are the last to ask for help or kick up a fuss.”