Family carers will not be able to meet need for support by 2017, warns think-tank

'Family care gap' requires rethink of how social care for older people is delivered, says Institute for Public Policy Research

Credit: Voisin/Phanie/Rex Features

The number of older people needing care will outstrip the number of family members able to provide care in 2017, warns a report by the IPPR.

The think-tank’s The Generation Strain report argues that the growing ‘family care gap’ requires a rethink of how social care for the elderly is delivered.

It recommends a move towards community based services that seek to help people live a “good life” rather than having “a narrow focus on physical and health needs”.

In particular, it says the UK should copy Germany’s government-funded Mehrgenerationenhausers, which bring services for people of all ages under one roof to reduce generational divides.

The IPPR also says older people and their carers should be given the ability to pool their direct payments with those of other local people so they can find collective solutions to their care needs.

The report also endorses moving the management of all but the most complex older people’s cases from social workers to local care coordinators.

These coordinators, who would come from a range of backgrounds and have close ties with local communities, would offer advocacy and advice to all those with care needs in their area.

The IPPR report also says family members who are providing informal care should get new employment rights that allow them to combine work with care.

“The supply of unpaid care to older people with support needs by their adult children will not keep pace with future demand,” said Clare McNeil, senior research fellow at IPPR.

“Thousands of people in their 60s and 70s today could be left to cope on their own when they need care in the future, with overstretched services unable to make up the shortfall.

“Britain needs to build new community institutions capable of sustaining us through the changes ahead and to adapt the social structures already in place, such as family and care, public services, the workplace and neighbourhoods.”

The report says the number of over 64s without adult children to care for them will almost double before 2030.

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