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Time for action!
19 November 2010
Ruby Slippers' starter for ten on the action we can take now to ensure we properly take care of our ageing population.
There’s been a lot of debate in the media recently on how best we can fund social care for our ageing population and indeed the many thousands of younger people experiencing disability issues. But what is anyone actually doing about it?
The number of people over the age of 85 in Scotland alone is set to almost double in the next 25 years and that initial swell in our ageing population is starting now with the first of the baby boomers turning 65 in January. Meanwhile, the number of care home places for the elderly in Edinburgh has dropped – an intentional decrease according to the city council as this reflects the growing demand for care at home. However anybody who understands the scale of the official ageing statistics knows this isn’t a question of either/or – of course we should help people stay in their homes for longer, but there will be an explosive demand for care home places from people no longer able to be cared for at home. We need action across the board and we need it now. Here’s my starter for ten:
- We need to start developing the highest quality residential care home environments that will enhance the daily lives of their residents and offer new levels of care.
- We need implementation of the UK Government’s Lifetime Home Standard – across all public sector and private sector new build projects - to ensure all new housing is accessible and easily adapted to our changing needs as we get older.
- We need developers of ‘specialist’ sheltered housing and retirement accommodation to implement best practice architecture and interior design for ageing-in-place – not just the minimum standards set by existing building regulations.
- And most importantly, given our unanimous desire to ‘stay put’ in our own homes, we need to raise awareness of what individuals and their families can do to their existing homes to live independently and safely at home for as long as possible.
People need to know what choices are available to them: What can they do to their home that is practical, affordable and might even add value to the property? What ‘ageless design’ features should they include in a new bathroom or kitchen renovation? What products should they choose to support them now and into the future? Ugly blue grab rails and ridiculous step-in baths aren’t the only options available to us in our later years!
We need well informed tradesmen and contractors who understand that step-in showers aren’t an ageless solution. We need to inject style and aspiration into our ageless designs so that people might more proactively manage their homes for their later years – and in the process hopefully reduce the number of nasty falls and hospital admissions we see each year. And we need the public sector, third sector and private sector working hand in hand to agree and implement best practice for home adaptations – so that public funds and private homeowners money is spent on well planned, well executed adaptations that meet individual’s wants and changing needs.
Clearly this isn’t an exhaustive list but it’s a start. And once actioned, would allow us to stop being fearful of the future. Instead we could be reassured that we were taking positive proactive strides towards our ageing population and its many opportunities.
Let us know what you think by emailing me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa set up Ruby Slippers when she discovered how little specialist assistance was available to help her family update their homes in their retirement years. Here, she regularly shares her thoughts and experiences.
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