Headlines: March 12th, 2009

Council leaders believe too few people are facing up to the realities of growing older and they are calling on political parties to put caring for an aging population into their top three priorities. Research carried out for the Local Government Association has found that while nine out of ten people think it is likely that most people will need care when they get older, only 71 per cent think they will be in that situation themselves.

The study of attitudes to old age also found almost a quarter of people are making no financial provision for the time when they can no longer work. Only 13 per cent of those questioned could estimate correctly the 35,000 pound cost of a year’s care in a residential home for an elderly person.

The LGA believes the system of providing adult social care is unsustainable with the number of people over 65 expected to rise from the present 8.3 million to 11.4 million in 2025 and the numbers needing support because of conditions such as dementia also set to rise. Currently three quarters of councils can provide personal care only to people with substantial needs.

Looking ahead to the forthcoming Green paper on care for older people, the Association is recommending investment in preventative services to keep people healthy and independent for as long as possible, co-ordination of all local spending on older and disabled people and minimising bureaucracy through a single assessment of an individual’s needs.

David Rogers, who chairs the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said, “These latest figures should act as a wake-up call. Everyone needs to be involved in the debate about how we provide the vital services which vulnerable people deserve and councils want to provide.”