Ageing: Put the Social back into Care

Filed under: Innovation,Social Care,Wellbeing — lenand @ 12:28 pm
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At last, some recognition from people who understand the need to put the Social back into Care.  The “SmokingChimney” prototype won a £2000 prize for the Kent Connects challenge “How can we make it easier for people to help each other?

It was not led by Technology – but a real life story from one of the attendees who joined the team.  He was so impressed that he wants the first version off the production line.  He created the strapline and enthusiastically gave the winning presentation.  It is an example of how designers should listen to people who want something very simple – the refinements can wait.

Have a look at the SmokingChimney slide pack to see the simplicity of the prototype.



Ageing: What do People Need?

Filed under: Health,Outcomes,Social Care,Technology,Wellbeing — lenand @ 7:07 am
Ageing impacts everybody in civil society.  We all grow older; we observe the ageing process with mild disinterest until it affects us personally. Who are the key stakeholders in sustaining a reasonable quality of life for our ever increasing ageing population?
  • Older people living independently
  • Relatives, who may live many miles away
  • Carers providing voluntary or commercial services
  • Local Authority Social Services officers
  • Voluntary Sector advisors

At the Health Technology Forum (November 20th, 2013), Mike Clark informed us that there are 1.5 million people employed in the Social Care industry.  In addition, there are about 5 million more providing unpaid care to relatives, friends or via voluntary work.  Before may years have passed, more then 9 million of the UK population will be personally involved in providing social care.   It is beginning to have a major impact on UK productivity with so much time and effort being deployed in caring. Technology enables people to do more, with less effort, improving outcomes in health and wellbeing.

Before rushing into a care technology solution, Quarkside recommends taking stock of what each stakeholder group needs, with answers to simple questions for each group:

  • What are the benefits of monitoring activity in the home?
  • What are the risks?
  • How much activity should be monitored and stored, if any?
  • How much data should be shared, and with whom?
  • What are the critical privacy requirements?
  • What is affordable?

These questions are being posed at Kent County Council (November 23rd, 2013).  The results should should inform any care ecosystem design for the technology products that will largely have to be self-funded.  The State will not provide for things that only provide peace of mind and improved levels of wellbeing of older people and their relatives.


Ageing: Prepare for self-funding

Filed under: Policy,Social Care — lenand @ 9:04 am
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One of the biggest sources of health care costs is dementia, £23 billion according to Age UK.  Falls currently cost £1 billion for health and social care, rising to £2.2 billion in 2050 (AKTIVE).  Adult social care costs for the Elderly are £8.9 billion (HSCIC).  The nation cannot afford to increase funding to meet these levels of growth.

Budgets will be capped in 2016, without annual increases.  It is inevitable that more social care costs will be paid by private individuals – self-funders in the jargon.  The Dilnot Commission “Fairer Care Funding“, provides much evidence for changes in policy.

  • The current system is confusing, unfair and unsustainable. People are unable to plan ahead to meet their future care needs. Assessment processes are complex and opaque. Eligibility varies depending on where you live and there is no portability if you move between local authorities. Provision of information and advice is poor, and services often fail to join up.

To protect people from extreme care costs, Dilnot recommended capping the lifetime contribution to adult social care at £35,000, increased by the Government to £72,000.  Thereafter, people should be eligible for full support from the state.   In practice, it means that self-funding will increase and that many people will not get any state contribution to care costs.  As has been observed – there is a risk of smart people ‘gaming’ the rules to obtain earlier access to state funding.

Dilnot also recommended a statutory duty placed on local authorities to provide information, advice and assistance to all people, irrespective of how their care is funded or provided.  This must include local knowledge about care homes and care services.  In addition, people should be made aware of assisted living technology that is emerging from innovations in the Internet of Things.  Older people living independently and their distant relatives can obtain better outcomes by embracing new concepts of care.



Ageing: Have we any choice?

Filed under: Health,Social Care — lenand @ 9:50 am
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The UK is predicted to have almost 20 million people over the age of 65 in 2030.

UK Ageing Population Growth

UK Ageing Population Growth

The proportion of older people relative to younger people is also increasing.  People are living longer and, in general, birth rates are reducing.  We have little choice in how we grow old.  After the age of 50 the ageing process means that our mental and physical capacity decreases until death.  The economic issues are are not going to disappear and however we play with the figures, the younger economically active people are faced with funding the growing ageing population.

The most obvious impact is in health and social care, where the Government have decided to cap the the budget in 2016, thereafter the value will reduce in real terms.  To give an idea of the scale:

  • Dementia results in health care costs of £23 billion (Age UK);
  • Falls currently cost £1 billion for health and social care, rising to £2.2 billion in 2050 (AKTIVE);
  • Adult social care costs for the elderly are £8.9 billion (HSCIC):
  • Chronic disease costs the NHS about £7 for every £10 it spends on patient care (College of Medicine).

People age at different rates, and they have different needs.  Whilst some are relatively healthy, an increasing number are suffering from chronic conditions.  Health and lifestyle are closely related.  The more active prefer to live independently as long as possible, the less healthy begin to need care assistance and may have little choice other than moving into care or nursing homes.  Choice is important, but options reduce with with reducing physical and mental capacity.

What is also clear is that the statutory services are reducing funding and that self-funding is going to increase after 2016.  Many families will have no choice about funding of care in old age.


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