‘Ticking time bomb’ of unforeseen old age social care

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Date: 17th Jul 2018

A Visiting Professor of Social Care at Buckinghamshire New University says people need to be more aware of the cost of care in their retirement as the UK's ageing population continues to grow.

Professor Martin Green, CEO of Care England, the largest representative body for independent care services in England, says people face a 'shock' in footing the bill for care as they get older in an interview with The Elder Magazine.Professor Martin Green

He said people often think social care is part of the NHS and don’t appreciate that they have to pay for their own care in old age.

Professor Green thinks that social care workers should be put on equal footing with NHS employees to address this misconception.

Prof Green said: " People don’t understand what the social care workforce does and they don’t give it just respect.

"If you go on to the high street and ask ten people how social care is funded and delivered, they wouldn’t have a clue.

"Everybody thinks it’s all about the health service and actually it’s a very different system.

"We mustn’t forget the Government puts about £3,700 of taxpayers’ money into every single NHS employee in terms of training but they only put £14 into each care employee.

"So if you look at the difference in how different professions are funded, that translates into a difference as to how social care professionals are respected and understood across the system."

According to the Office for National Statistics last year, 18 per cent of the UK’s 65.6 million population were aged 65 and over and 2.4 per cent were older than 85 years of age.

Yet, according to the Age UK Health and Care of Older People in England 2017 report, total public spending on older people’s social care in 2015/16 was £8.34 billion, far below spending on the NHS.

Prof Green continued: "Government policy needs to change.

"It has been 20 years since Lord Sutherland was asked by Tony Blair to develop the commission to find a long-term care solution. Since then we’ve had The Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England (also known as the Barker Commission) and we’ve had the introduction of the Care Act, but we’re still no further forward.

"It’s because the Government puts everything like this into the 'too difficult' box.

"So it pretends to everybody there is no difference between health and social care, and constantly talks about integration, which completely misses the point.

"Good integration is invisible to the service user. It's about the services that wrap around the need of the person."

Prof Green says this is vital in ensuring people make provision for their care needs in retirement.

He added: "While the Government is constantly talking about the NHS and not about social care, citizens will never realise there is a difference in the system - and that they are going to have to make provisions for their own care – until it is too late.

Prof Green said Care England was highlighting the issue through lobbying at national and government level, through local authorities and also Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which are responsible for allocating funds at a local level.

"We’ve also tried to work through the media to try and get these key messages across, but it is difficult," he added.

"The problem is nobody wants to engage with something which is not very pleasant but we’ve got to start getting care on the public agenda so that people start to make provision."

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