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The number of elderly needing social care will double by 2035

There is expected to 446,000 over-85s requiring round-the-clock care within two decades in England

The demand for adult social care could skyrocket in England over the next two decades –with more than double the amount of elderly people requiring round-the-clock treatment.

The number of over-85s in need of care will hit 446,000 by 2035, according to new research, while there will also by an increase of a third for over-65s with the number set to hit more than one million.

The research, published by journal The Lancet Public Health, uses a model that also predicted that the numbers of people living independently without care needs will hit 8.9 million by 2035 – a rise of 60 per cent with the biggest increase found in men.

But the strain on the NHS is likely to be felt by the increase of those living in old age with multiple long-term conditions – with 80 per cent of older adults suffering from dementia.

Author of the report, Professor Carol Jagger from the Newcastle University Institute for Ageing, warned that the £57bn worth of care provided by informal carers is not sustainable.

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“The challenge is considerable,” said Prof Jagger. “Our study suggests that older spouse carers are increasingly likely to be living with disabilities themselves, resulting in mutual care relationships, that are not yet well recognised by existing care policy and practices.

“On top of that, extending the retirement age of the UK population is likely to further reduce the informal and unpaid carer pool, who have traditionally provided for older family members. These constraints will exacerbate pressures on already stretched social care budgets.”

Prof Eric Brunner and Sara Ahmadi-Abhari from London University College Medical School added: “Care provision at this intense level for more than 1 million people in 2035 will require careful thought and planning at both local and national level.”

The government has pointed to their adult social care green paper, expected in the autumn, to provide details of how they hope to deal with the rising demand.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “In the autumn we will set out our plans to reform adult social care alongside our long-term plan for the NHS, so we can address the challenge of our growing ageing population head on and ensure services are sustainable for the future.”

But Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, insisted that organisations would have to work together more effectively to meet the challenge.

“The problem is that today there are far too few really effective joined-up services, and social care is in sharp decline,” she said.

“The government’s top priority must be to steady the ship and then produce a great set of proposals later this year to give our older population confidence they can get the help they need.”

The Local Government Association (LGA) got so tired of the delays in the government’s green paper that they released their own.

Cllr Nick Forbes, The LGA’s senior vice chair, said: “These issues cannot be ignored any longer. This is why, following the disappointing decision by government to delay its green paper on adult social care until the autumn, the Local Government Association has published its own green paper consultation.

“Our consultation aims to influence government policy by encouraging a nationwide public debate on how we can change social care for the better, how we could pay for those changes and how we can move to a care system which places a greater focus on public health, prevention and early intervention work.

“This will help people live happier, more fulfilling lives and reduce the pressure on the NHS through preventing unnecessary admissions to hospitals.”

Image: iStock

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