27/01/2011 | 09.25am to 17.00pm
With an increasingly ageing population meaning a soaring demand for
care services, Paul Burstow, Minister of State for Care Services, has
said that the "urgent reform of the social care system is at the top of
our agenda". The Coalition Government has pledged an additional £2
billion for social care in the Comprehensive Spending Review, but is
this enough? What is the way forward for later life care?
Work is being done. The recent white paper 'Equity and excellence: liberating the NHS' proposes one of the biggest shake ups of the health system since the NHS was established. The Department of Health has recently published its 'Vision for Adult Social Care', setting out the government's plans for reforming social care. The report from the Commission for the Funding of Care and Support is expected by July 2011, which will aim to answer the key question of how health and social care for the elderly should be paid for. Ideas such as voluntary insurance and partnership schemes will be considered. Value for money is, of course, paramount. This will be followed by a social care white paper in autumn 2011.
Stronger integration between health and social care services is essential, and more joined-up planning is needed if the challenge presented by the ageing population is to be met. With greater responsibility being passed to local authorities and GPs' increased role in coordinating care, effective collaborative working is required for success. In order to improve the quality of care, staff must be properly trained, and the training needs of the workforce with regard to the ageing population must be considered.
The fact that people are living longer is mostly thanks to the huge leaps that have been made in medical care and technologies in recent years. Technological innovation can now help to improve later life care at the same time as reducing costs. Assistive technologies in housing and transport can help improve the dignity and privacy of the elderly. Technology must be married with the underpinning social issues, focusing on prevention. Prevention and early intervention remain high on the agenda, and authorities must continue to strive to ensure wellbeing and independence. Good health in later life is about staying out of the hospital.
Choice is very important for patients: greater choice and control can lead to a better lifestyle. Government plans for personal care budgets and direct payments, moving away from the 'one-size-fits-all' approach, are an attractive way to build choice and control for individuals. In an age of austerity, though, is this the most efficient way in which to spend valuable and limited resources? There is a clear need for a joined-up, patient-focused system, which allows people to live independently for as long as possible, receiving tailored care and support, and so enhancing their quality of life.
At Later Life: planning for an ageing population, the future of health and social care for our elderly population will be considered by key speakers from across the sectors.
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