Care of the Elderly: Changing terms of debate

The recent WRVS report “Gold Age Power List” asked what David Attenborough, Delia Smith, Michael Palin and a diverse range of other well known individuals have in common. Few would have said the fact that they are all over 66 years old. The perception of age is changing and “grey power” is beginning to come to the fore. As the number of those over 80 is set to double in the next two decades we can expect increasing pressure from a generation of older people that are not content to put up with poor quality care services. This is going to make the job of figuring out how to pay for more and better services for an aging population even harder.

In the aftermath of the Southern Cross experience the cost of provision by the private sector is set to be increased by the need for bonds to underwrite the continuity of service. The current regulatory frame work is about the quality of care as opposed to the financial viability of the provider. It has been suggested that care providers will need to be licensed by Monitor the NHS regulator.

The demographic time bomb is creating a rapidly increasing demand for services but the changing nature of what it means to be old is creating other demands for increases in quality and continuity of service. The report of the Dilnott Commission next week has a series of dilemmas to resolve that would challenge Job himself.