The report, ‘Ready for ageing?’, warns that our rapidly ageing population will have a huge impact on our society and public services.
Between 2010 and 2030 England will see a 50% rise in the number of people aged 65 and over, and a 100% increase in those aged 85 and over. With this ageing population will come an increase in the number of people living with long-term health conditions, such as dementia and coronary heart disease. An Age UK report published this week suggested that most 85-year-olds will have between three and six long-term conditions.
The Committee claims that, while the current health system is good at dealing with acute conditions, it is not so good at caring for people with long-term conditions. Many older people with long-term conditions end up in acute hospital wards, which are not necessarily the best place for them, and is an expensive place to provide care.
The committee is calling for the health and social care system to be revolutionised, so that there is better support for people in their own homes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to avoid needless admissions to hospital. For this to work well, and efficiently, healthcare and social care must be commissioned and funded jointly.
The report chimes with other recent publications, such as the Age UK report published this week that also highlights how NHS services are failing to meet the needs of older people. The King’s Fund’s ‘Time to think differently‘ project is already looking at ways the health and social care can change to meet the demands of an ageing population.
Earlier this year The Commission into the Future of Hospice Care published a report showing how the demand for care at the end of life will also increase as our population ages, and how the nature of this care will become more complex as due to an increase in chronic conditions.
The Committee recommends that whichever party is in government after the election should, within six months, establish two cross-party commissions to respond to the ageing society. One would look at pensions, savings and equity release, while the other would analyse how the health and social care system and its funding should change to serve the needs of our ageing population.