What's the issue?
How to provide adequate social care is a major issue facing the UK. Care services, both residential and home care, have been systematically privatised since 1991. The failures of privatised provision, aggravated by austerity inflicted on both social care budgets and the NHS, have landed the system in crisis. Almost everyone will need care at some time, in the same way that everyone requires NHS services. Yet, there is no National Care Service.
The solution requires not only providing enough care, but also developing new and different forms of care. People's expectations of living longer affect how they want care to be delivered. Increasingly, people want care delivered in a personalised way at home or locally in the community.
How could a National Care Service solve the social care crisis?
Although life expectancy has been increasing, with women expected to live for 82.9 years and men for 79.2 years, these extra years will not necessarily all be spent in good health; many people will develop long-term conditions, affecting their mobility and ability to live independently. Men can expect to live 79.7 per cent of their lives in good health, while for women, who experience higher levels of limiting long-term conditions, the percentage is just 77.1 per cent. These differences between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy fuel the growing demand for care support services.
Over the coming 20 years, the population aged 65–84 will rise by 39 per cent and that aged over 85 by 106 per cent. With a larger older population, the demand for services to provide care for those not in good health will increase.
Informal carers provide a large amount of care unpaid and largely unsupported. In 2010, there were 5.3 million informal carers in UK. By 2037, this is estimated to grow to 9 million. Informal carers need support to continue do their work; they require both money and services, including professional help with increasingly complex caring activities, most obviously when dealing with dementia.
By 2032 over 11 million people are expected to be living on their own, which will be more than 40 per cent of all households. They will not be able to depend on family or partners for informal care.