"We need to be much clearer that growing old is a genuine progression and there are opportunities in growing old. We should be designing services that recognise that."
STEVE CAREFULL, PA ADULT SOCIAL CARE EXPERT
Steve Carefull, PA adult social care expert, took part in a debate with The Guardian on the challenges and opportunities an ageing population creates for the UK. The discussion looked at why urgent action is needed to ensure the nation is prepared for such large demographic change.
Commenting on the difficulties faced, Steve argues that a more positive debate would help address the challenges of an ageing population successfully. "The increase in life expectancy is a fantastic achievement," he said. "We need to be much clearer that growing old is a genuine progression and there are opportunities in growing old. We should be designing services that recognise that."
Steve also talks about the new technologies we should be investing more resources into. Steve argues that is says a lot about our society that there are 30,000 outlets where you can buy a lottery ticket – but anyone who wants to take advantage of assistive technologies, such as personal telecare alarms or health-monitoring systems, in their home has to "scratch about on the internet" for information. "The total spend on telecare in the UK in 2010 was £106m", he said, pointing out that the figure was far less than the cost of relatively trivial things, such as a Premier League football team's annual wage bill.
Another key issue will be having the right homes to house the ageing population and Steve talks about the question of whether we should release equity tied up in property to help pay for care later in life. "What message are we sending out by sitting on our assets?" asked Carefull. "Homes are seen as an inheritance piggy bank for children, rather than something people can draw down on when they need to."
You can read a full summary of the discussion here.