Aged care must increase by a quarter to meet needs, study concludes

New research, conducted by the University of Liverpool, University College London (UCL), University of Gdansk and INSERM Centre for Research in Epidemiology and Population Health, has highlighted that the UK’s aged social care must grow by 25 per cent within 10 years to meet increasing needs.

Published in The Lancet Public Health, the research highlighted an urgent need for better disease prevention policies targeting poor diet, smoking, alcohol, high blood pressure and physical inactivity, as well as increased investment in health and social care.

It showed the number of people aged over 65 years needing care could reach 2.8 million by 2025 in England and Wales – an increase of 25 per cent from 2015 over a decade.

Researchers also cited that the burden of disability will grow as a result of the rising number of people living into old age, rather than an increase in ill-health.

The study, which was funded by the British Heart Foundation, modelled future trends in disability and life expectancy in England and Wales between 2015-2025 by estimating future rates of cardiovascular disease, dementia and other diseases and the functional disability they may cause (difficulty with one or more activities of daily living, such getting out of bed, bathing, dressing or eating).

Estimates suggested that the number of people aged over 65 will increase by 19 per cent – from 10.4 million people in 2015 to 12.4 million people in 2025. For people aged 65 in 2025, life expectancy is projected to increase by 1.7 years to 86.8 years, but a quarter of later life is likely to be spent with disability (5.4 years after age 65).

Overall, dementia represented the biggest growing cause of disability and rates are predicted to increase by 49 per cent in people aged 65 or over between 2015-2025 – meaning that 699000 people will have dementia care needs in 2025 (compared to 468000 in 2015).

The second largest cause will be other diseases including mental health problems, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and other chronic diseases, which will increase by 37 per cent over the decade.

Lead author Dr Maria Guzman-Castillo from the University’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, commented: “The societal, economic, and public health implications of our predictions are substantial. In particular, our findings draw attention to the scale of societal costs associated with disability in the coming decade.”

“Spending on long-term care will need to increase considerably by 2025, which has serious implications for a cash strapped and overburdened National Health Service and an under-resourced social care system. More cost-effective health and social care provision will be needed, such as increased availability of institutional care, and better financial support – such as tax allowances or cash benefits – for family members providing informal and home care.”

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