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Care through the ages

The War Cry comments on care for older people

In 2016 18 per cent of the UK population was aged 65 or over

 THE uplifting message behind Sheila Hancock’s new film Edie is that no one has to be past it just because they are past a certain age.

That’s good news for the growing number of people who are approaching the traditional retirement age. According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2016 18 per cent of the UK population was aged 65 or over. By 2036 the figure is expected to be about 24 per cent.

The increase will bring a number of challenges to our society, including the provision of adequate care and support for people in the final phase of their life. Some of that can be given by faith-based programmes such as the Gift of Years. In this issue of The War Cry, Debbie Thrower describes why she gave up a successful career on national television and radio to become a chaplain to older people.

Chaplaincy support, though, can go only so far. There comes a point for some older people when they need the additional assistance that can best be provided by care homes – but that care costs.

Homeowners are able to offset those costs by using the equity in their property, which often gives them greater choice about where and when they enter a care home.

However, people who don’t own their home can face a far more limited choice and, where English and Welsh local authority funding falls short of what is needed, can see their family expected to make up the difference, which could be anything up to £18,000 every year. As a quarter of people aged over 75 do not own their home, this is a potential problem for thousands of families.

The government is due to release a green paper on adult social care this summer. It is vital that any system of care is built on fairness, inclusion and choice – whether or not someone owns their home.

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