The Future of Care – From the Experts at AON

Carer with an elderly lady

In 2012 the number of over 65s in the UK surpassed 10 million for the first time.

The aging population is causing a major shift in Britain today and its ripple will touch almost every aspect of life. Between 1901 and 2010, the number of people aged 40 and older trebled from 9.7m to 30.8m. Today few people regard 65 as retirement age and this summer’s festival circuit was swamped not by the under 25s, but the over 50s (two thirds of who set off with tents and wellies for various weekends of music and fun).

The scale of this demographic shift towards an ageing population is profound – and add to a longer life expectancy. Experts recently predicted that one in three babies born in 2013 would be expected to live to celebrate their 100th birthday.

What this means is that people are living for longer and more people are in need of care homes. This puts the industry under strain and also calls for investment in robust businesses that are financially sound, equipped to anticipate and react to risks and able to invest in quality service provision. This is the future of care.

It’s a debate that everyone has a view on. For example, at the recent Conservative Party Conference, Cabinet ministers, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local, Sajid Javid, and the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, suggested that more families should consider putting up parents or grandparents in their spare rooms to ease the crisis in old age care and boost family life. Continued pressure on funding and the increasing demand of people with more complex needs mean fewer people and homes are receiving state support – even with the millions that gets ploughed into care each year.

What is apparent at the moment is that more people are staying in their own homes for longer so are in need of domiciliary care. Often, this is not aided and helped by the Local Authorities that are reducing funding for care.

Furthermore, the future outlook of care seems to be one that will need to evolve into a community of wellbeing – with professional support available to families that have not the time, health, space, money or skills to properly look after their elderly relatives.

In the future we expect to see larger care homes in existence provided holistic and integrated care services to a greater number of guests. At the moment, the average bed size across the UK hovers around the forty to fifty bed mark for a care home. With the smaller care homes disappearing, we envisage a scenario where an average care home will consist of between eighty to a hundred beds in the future. Some may view this as a corporatising of care provision. Whilst diversity within the care industry is in principle a healthy dynamic, the realities of market forces, rising costs, managing risk and investing in good staff all point towards larger care homes that have the firepower to tackle the operational risks whilst also providing a quality service that delivers a positive return.

With the strain on funds prevalent at the moment within this sector the risks can at least be managed no matter what the financial strain. Risk management works on many levels from major health and safety policies to the simple tasks that feature in the daily operation of a home. For example, if you do any manual handling training for your staff it’s important to make sure you keep a written record. It’s also important to make sure you keep a regular check of your building facilities and your surrounding land, ensure paving and slabs are flat, so there is nothing that may lead to a slip, trip or fall which can constitute the majority of liability claims.

Care homes will become more prevalent in the next 20 years and the most important thing is for people to feel confident that their parents are happy in their care home, confident in the facilities provided and confident that the staff who work there are capable of providing the care that the residents need. As standards continue to rise in the sector, then ultimately it should be an easy decision for a family to make when putting or considering putting one of their family members into a care home.

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