Monday, 21 October 2013

The challenge of Age!

 Chairing a conference today on the effects of demographic change and austerity on our health and care systems. It rather echoed the speech by Jeremy Hunt on Friday about how we care for our old people.

Jeremy has made the care of the frail elderly a theme for his time as Secretary of State for Health. He is right to do so. We know that one of the major failings of the health service is that too many old people are in hospital beds when they could be better cared for at home or in the community. We know that the impending crisis in A&E over winter will be largely driven by our inability to care effectively for older people at home and when they get to hospital ensuring early discharge. Part of the answer to the winter crisis lies with the many excellent national charities that work in hospitals and the community such as The Red Cross, RVS and Age UK.

The statistics about age are interesting.

Those currently 65 will live to 84. (So I reckon I might make 90; lots more time to give the third sector the benefit of my views!).

And the current population of  65s will grow from 9m in 1995 to 19m by 2050.

In terms of the Public Spending demands, state pension/social care & health for older people will rise from 14% of national  income to almost 25 % in a decade.

But let's not think of this in terms of the apocalypse. Our debates on the elderly are usually couched in terms of problems and burdens. We forget the majority of people who volunteer are over 60. Its a huge cohort of largely active and engaged people. People who vote (unlike youth!). People who contribute to civic life and debate.

However we do need to change the way we provide many of our public services, especially in health and social care.

Many of my regular blog readers will have missed my Blog for the last week. I'm afraid it has been particularly manic and I managed a week of breakfast meetings and evening events as well as the usual round of meetings (not to mention our Board away-day on Friday).

We are also gearing up for the Lobbying Bill debate in the Lords tomorrow. So a week of chatting up Lords and Baronesses; tough job but someone has to do it. A superb article by Polly Toynbee in Friday'sGuardian summed up the importance of the issue for charities and our broader civil society. It's at times like this that ACEVO as an umbrella organisation for third sector CEOs comes into its own.

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