New approaches to informal care

New approaches to informal care

More than nine million older people could need “informal care” from their friends and family in just ten years’ time, it has been revealed.

Experts predict that as the number of elderly people dramatically rises more and more will be left relying on relatives to help them out.

But, at current levels, by 2017 the number of people requiring care will outstrip the number of family members able to help, leaving a dangerous gap.

Now a charity has called on social entrepreneurs to help design new technology which can improve the informal care market.

Nesta Impact Investments claim more people need to invest in the ventures to help avoid an “inevitable” care crisis.

Joe Ludlow, from Nesta, said: “The time bomb that is our ageing population is increasingly well documented.

Profound implications

The implications for demand on care services are profound, public spending can’t keep up.

“Social entrepreneurs are developing solutions that can avoid the looming crisis, solutions which can also be highly successful businesses over time.

“But in order to achieve the scale of impact necessary to tackle the problem these entrepreneurs need investment capital.

“Now is the time for impact investors to engage with this serious social need which is also a significant economic opportunity.”

An estimated three million people are already juggling going to work with providing care.

Nesta say to improve health and wellbeing, and delay the need for expensive professional care, there is a need to be more proactive, create new ways of providing support that increases the quality of life at an earlier stage.

The report, Who Cares?, highlights new approaches, such as an app developed by Carers UK designed to make caring less stressful and more co-ordinated.

They claim that new technologies can build “networks of care” which improve connections between older people and their carers, increase engagement from the community and help to manage and co-ordinate care tasks.

There are currently 10.8 million people over the age of 65 in the UK, of whom approximately 2.2million have formal care needs.

About 450,000 older people are living in residential care homes and 750,000 are receiving some kind of at-home care.

But, the remaining one million reportedly have care-related needs but do not receive any formal support from public or private agencies and are reliant on informal care if it is available.

The report estimates up to 65 per cent of older people could benefit from some kind of informal care, such as help with shopping and household tasks to help them live independently

Huge market for care

This means the market for informal care for older people is currently over 6.5 million.

In 10 years’ time the population of older people is projected to grow by more than 35 per cent to 14 million, increasing the informal care ‘market’ to 9.3 million.

The huge increase of people means many councils are being forced to slash their budgets allocated to care, something Nesta say is not acceptable.

Nick Dixon, Commissioning Manager at Stockport council said it was time for a new approach.

He said: “There is no doubt that we are seeing high demand for services at a time when we are having to make tough decisions about funding and budgets. In Stockport we expect a 70 per cent increase in our over 65 population by 2050, while young people and working age populations are set to increase only by around 10 per cent.

“We need to find new ways to enable communities to come together to shape and direct the services they use.

“Social ventures are well-placed to offer innovative solutions and help us change the way we work with older people and their families.”