A new report has revealed that over 9 million older people could need ‘informal care’ from their friends and family in ten years time.
The report by Nesta Impact Investments highlights the need for investment in social ventures and new technology if the UK is to avoid an inevitable care crisis.
The report, Who Cares?, found that social entrepreneurs are at the forefront of designing new technologies that can improve the informal care market, but they are being severely restricted by a lack of investment.
It was recently highlighted that by 2017 the number of older people in need of care will outstrip the number of family members able to help.
Nesta’s report argues 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.
Nick Dixon, Commissioning Manager at Stockport council says it’s time for a new approach.
“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% increase in our over 65 population by 2050, while young people and working age populations are set to increase only by around 10%.
“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.”
An estimated three million people are already juggling going to work with providing care, and the report highlights new approaches, such as an app developed by Carers UK designed to make caring less stressful and more co-ordinated.
The app, Jointly, connects people caring for a family member or friend and enables multiple carers to share a calendar, task and medication lists and group messaging.
Madeleine Starr from Carers UK says: “Co-ordinating care with relatives, friends and neighbours from opposite ends of a motorway, often alongside other responsibilities such as paid work and children, can quickly become stressful and challenging. Across age divides we embrace technology in so many ways – banking, shopping, entertainment connecting and socializing – and it makes perfect sense to use it for caring too.”
It found that new technology could increase the supply and efficiency of informal care, and deliver low cost, personalised solutions. But highlights the need for social entrepreneurs to collaborate with commissioners and care providers to provide evidence as to how this will work in practice.