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Social care crisis looms as demand to double by 2035

England unprepared after years of delaying hard decisions

The next 20 years will see the number of over 65s needing complex health and social care double, a new study warns.

The forecast is part of new research conducted by the University of Newcastle and the London School of Economics, and published in the Lancet journal today, underlying the need for a new solution to fix the already over-burdened social care system in England.

The prediction reflects a rapidly ageing UK population, where around 14.5m people will be aged 65 or over by 2035, a rise of 50% from 2015.

Those in greatest need will be over-85s requiring ‘high dependency’ care, with numbers swelling to 446,000 by 2035, double the figure in 2015. This group will account for 10% of all men and 20% of all women aged 85 and over, according to the study.

Overall, more than 1 million people aged 65 or over will require intensive social care assistance by 2035, with more and more older people living with multiple long-term conditions.

People with dementia and at least two other major health conditions, such as obesity or diabetes, will double over the next 20 years, likely to mean that an extra 500,000 people will need complex forms of care.

Simon Bottery, a senior fellow in social care at the King’s Fun health think tank told the Guardian: This study is further evidence of the scale of pressure building up on social care services from an ageing population, which is compounded by growing demand from working age adults with disabilities.”

The government is due to publish in the autumn its long-awaited, and repeatedly delayed plans to reform adult social care. The newly renamed Department of Health and Social Care says it will be published alongside a renewed long-term plan for the NHS, with the goal of creating more integrated services to meet some of this fast-growing demand.

Writing in a guest blog for Age UK, founding partner of healthcare consultancy Incisive Health Mike Birtwistle says successive British governments have dodged this difficult question. 

"Finding the perfect balance for a system that is financially fair to both recipients and the taxpayer, whilst providing equitable access to high quality care, remains one of the most pressing challenges of or time," he comments.

Incisive Health has partnered with Age UK to examine what five other countries have done in response to long-term care needs and how to finance and deliver these services, analysing systems in France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Japan.

Read the Age UK and Inventiv Health report here:

An international comparison of long-term care funding and outcomes: insights for the social care green paper

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

31st August 2018

From: Healthcare

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