Dr. Matthew Knight

Quality in Elderly Care Article Series, Article 1: Introduction

The UK is not alone in experiencing the challenges of providing for an increasingly aged population. In 2012 the Office for National Statistics report on Pension Trends and a changing population^1 sharply drew our attention to the demographic challenges of the next 50 years.

In 2010 17% of the UK population was aged over 65, by 2051 this is projected to be greater than 24% (and the percentage over 85 years of age will increase from 2% in 2010 to over 7% in 2051). In 2010 there were 3.2 15-64 year olds for every 65 year old and above. In 2051, if projections are correct, there will only be 2.0- in other words the number of working people supporting 1 pensioner will fall from 3.2 to 2.0. Furthermore life expectancy continues to rise and birthrates continue to fall. The UK has been in state of sub-replacement fertility since 1973- that is that the birthrate is not sufficient to maintain long term population stability^2 resulting in an increasingly elderly population and a reducing ‘economically productive’ population.

This realisation led to substantial reform of the pension system in the United Kingdom, and around other European countries^3. In particular in the UK an increase in the age of retirement and a significant reduction in the benefits received by people in public sector pension schemes.

Whilst projected spending on pensions, health and social care is increasing under the terms of the current spending review (spending on pensions will from 11.7% of total government spending in 2004 to 14% in 2017 and NHS spending from 17.9 to 19.4% of total government spending^4 it is unlikely that the rate will increase sufficiently to provide for all the ongoing needs of an ageing population. A recent report to the Scottish Assembly indicates that the cost of providing elderly care has escalated by over 150% in the last 7 years^5 and health minister, Norman Lamb MP is engaged with talks with care providers around the UK to ensure a ‘crisis’ in home care similar to crises in nursing homes and Mid Staffordshire hospitals, do not occur in the home care sector^6.

At Penrose Care we believe that to ensure good quality and high standards of care starts with recruiting and retaining high quality staff, based on their compassion and dedication to care. This can only be done if staff are trained, paid and treated properly. This however requires significant investment in Elderly care service. During a time of economic crisis, where this money comes from- the State, the individual or a mixture of both- is an ongoing and highly charged debate. Yet a solution needs to be rapidly found as the future of care for our elderly is at stake.

In this Quality in Elderly Care series we will be posting short articles discussing issues in elderly care, drawing on examples from around the world. We hope you find this series interesting- and we welcome feedback or contributions- enquiries@penrosecare.co.uk

References

^1 Pension Trends (ONS, 2012), available online here.

^2 Smallwood, Steve and Jessica Chamberlain, “Replacement fertility, what has it been and what does it mean” (Population Trends, 2005, v119), p. 16, available online here.

^3 The single-tier pension: a simple foundation for saving (DWP, 2013), available online here.

^4 Crawford, Rowena, “Spending through the decades”: 25 June 2013 (BBC News, 2013), available online here.

^5 “Personal care costs rise by 150% in seven years”: 28 Aug 2012 (BBC News, 2012), available online here.

^6 “Disabled and elderly home care: Crisis talks being held”: 13 Jun 2013 (BBC News, 2013), available online here.

Dr. Knight trained as a doctor at the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, Hampstead and University College London (UCL). He then undertook his postgraduate training in Internal Medicine, based in north west London, and is currently working full time as a Registrar in Respiratory Medicine, at the Royal Brompton Hospital. His main interests are Asthma and allergy and he is currently studying part time for a Masters degree in Allergy, at Imperial College London. Dr. Matthew Knight is the co-founder and non-executive director of Hampstead-based Penrose Care, a provider of home care services in London to the elderly – including to persons with dementia – and to non-elderly adults with physical and/or learning disabilities.

Penrose Care is proud to be only one of three Accredited Living Wage Employers in the London home care sector out of c 925 agencies. Penrose Care provides short care at home visits, day sitting, night services including sleepovers, and live-in care services.

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