Ageing Without Children

As many of us get older, we will often rely on assistance from close family for support, and this will often be partners and children. This can start with some minor assistance with day-to-day tasks and can eventually lead to these family members becoming part or full-time carers of their loved one. This can have a profound impact on both the living situations of those involved, and the relationship as a whole, and can sadly put a strain on them all. Often this will result in a more permanent solution being needed, such as placement into some type of care facility such as a nursing home, where professionally trained staff and support services are available at all times.

People ageing without children is one of the fastest-growing groups in society, and it is estimated that there are currently around 1.2 million people aged 65 and over without any children, and that this number could rise to 2 million by 2030, and to 4 million by 2040.

Most local authorities now have dedicated teams that are able to provide assistance and signposting to those who do not have the support of family, friends or children, as the care system can often be very confusing and complex to those who attempt to access it. They can also provide deputy-ship to manage a person’s financial affairs if they are not able to do so for themselves, and arrange care packages either at home or in a care facility if needed, but these teams are now seeing a greater need of their services, meaning a strain is put on them to meet the needs of all  those they are working with.

The House of Lord’s adult social care committee has advised that the social care system as it currently is could potentially collapse without the support of family members as unpaid carers to the elderly and vulnerable, and this will in turn put a greater strain on current care providers to meet the demands of those who require their services.

The issues that care providers face is also the lower budget compared to the NHS – the social care workforce currently has 1.62 million filled posts compared to the NHS which has 1.37 million, yet the budget for publicly-funded elderly care is just £17.1 billion per year, compared to the NHS budget of £153 billion.

The gap in supply and demand also means that as many as 2.6 million people currently have unmet needs and are left with having to either go without the help they need or relying on paid services or the assistance of family and friends, which will become more of an issue as the current population ages and does not always have the support or finances available to them.

Some of the recommendations that have been made include changing the perceptions of the care system, as it has historically not been an attractive sector to work in due to the commonly lower pay rates than many other industries and involving all those providing care and unpaid care to help create realistic financial and workforce strategies. Many argue that the entire care sector needs more wide-scale change that will enable it to be more resilient and adaptable in the future, and most importantly provide the care everyone needs and deserves as they age.