Blog | Angela Gifford

The World Problem - an increasing, aging population.

The Worlds population is getting older. The UN figures of 2009 estimated that the growth rate of people over the age of 65 is rising by 2% per year.

Government’s who recognise the situation, realise that they need to address the huge problem of balancing the economic costs with social costs.

Apart from family care, the majority of care provided in modern, industrialised countries centres around care provided by professional organisations from either the ‘for profit’ or the ‘not for profit’ care sectors. In the UK alone there are approximately 5500, for profit, home care agencies involved in providing community care services.

Many Governments pay/part pay for or provide individual care services but where this is happening, the growing realisation is that this will become untenable in the future for millions of people.

The opinion that people who can pay for their care should pay, is seen as a practical solution to ensuring that care services are still available for people who do not have the financial means to pay. This view is gathering ground rapidly as the cost of caring becomes increasingly expensive.

Many countries where care services are paid for or provided by the State have care services that are underdeveloped. Opening up the care market as a consumer led purchase means that people who pay for their care demand higher care standards, more flexible and innovative services, better safeguarding processes in place, choice and other related benefits.

The UK began to address the problem of an aging population in the 1980’s and since that decade has progressed through ideas, trials and experiments across a wide range of care provision: home care, aged care facilities, retirement villages/hotels, and family care activity.

The UK went from the State being the provider of care to where, almost exclusively, the State has become the purchaser of care services. As a result in the UK, the growth of the ‘for profit’ care providers rose exponentially.

The home care services available in the UK, the vast majority of which are provided by ‘for profit’ agencies are of a high standard, are regulated, are flexible, innovative and led, where people have been assessed as able to pay noticeably by ‘customer’ demand. Aged care facilities are similarly regulated and services within the facilities have become more varied, socially aware, and creative, re-acting again to customer demand.

However, despite achieving a public acceptance of care being a service to be purchased this does not solve the problem of the increasing need in the UK and the Government is searching for additional ways to balance the financial books for a population that has more ‘older’ people each year.

Insurance products have and continue to be developed, families find themselves contributing to the cost of an older relatives care and many people now consider equity release as a means to stay and be cared for ‘at home’

In some countries the provision of care is not comprehensively regulated and there are large markets of ‘cash in hand’ care provision. However, where this is prevalent, such as in Italy, the standards of care from this unregulated area is of a much lower standard for the recipient and the care workers have little training, protection and access to the rights of a legally employed workforce.

Taxation is often offered as the solution but with a reducing workforce and an increasing number of people requiring care, this is not the ideal solution it may at first seem.

By:  Angela Gifford
Posted:  10 Apr 2012

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