Encouraging people to plan for care needs ‘just in case’ is biggest hurdle for the Government’s Green Paper

New research suggests a lack of information and support is preventing people from thinking about the care they may want or need in the future.
Healthwatch staff talking to person from the community
  • A third of over 55s haven’t given any thought to what care they might need as they get older, adopting a ‘wait and see’ attitude instead.
  • Fewer than 1 in 10 feel ‘fully prepared’ should their circumstances suddenly change and they or a loved one need care support.
  • People want a well-resourced and well-publicised information and advice service is vital to ensure people are more care aware.

We have now published a new briefing looking at people's understanding of social care and what they want from it in the future.

Most people don’t like thinking about their pension or the prospect of drawing up a will, but people are aware of these planning processes and engage with them as we get older so we can live our lives in the way we want.

Government initiatives, such as the automatic pension enrolment scheme, have helped make things much easier for people in recent years.

Yet when it comes to planning for possible care needs, there are far fewer initiatives out there. The limited help that is on offer focuses almost entirely on financial planning, with no real effort to help people think about what sort of care they may want or need.

“I wouldn’t know whether it would be a care home or a nursing home, or how old I would be.”

Our research suggests that the current lack of information and advice is creating a culture where people simply don’t plan because they see it as too complicated and difficult to prepare for something that is ‘impossible to pin down’. They would rather ‘wait and see’ than plan for something ‘just in case’.

“What are we meant to be planning for? I could get hit by a bus tomorrow, or I may never need to go in to a care home.”

Whilst people’s most common questions around care focus on the potential cost, the research also highlighted a clear need for greater promotion of what sort of care is available, and what level of quality people should be able to expect.

Greater understanding of how care services can help people live fulfilling lives is vital, so that if crises occur people are able to make informed decisions for themselves and their family and friends. 

The Government’s green paper on social care is expected to focus on well reported systemic problems like funding and workforce issues such as staff numbers, skills and training. Though these are very important, the feedback we gathered from the public in this research suggests these alone will not fix the underlying challenges facing the sector.

The public have sent a strong message that they need greater emphasis on information and advice about the support and services they can access, so they can be better prepared if something happens that means they need care and support.

Commenting on the research our National Director, Imelda Redmond said:

“We all hope to retire one day, but we often don’t like to think about things like pensions. Yet recent changes like the auto enrolment scheme have played a massive part in making things much easier for people. 

“Yet when it comes to planning for big unknowns, like whether or not we will need care support or will have to move into a care home, it is still far too hard. This is not helped by the poor availability of information and the lack of good quality products out there to help people plan.

“Encouraging people to prepare for something that may not happen, but will have a huge impact on quality of life if it does, is the very real and very human challenge that the Government’s plans for the social care sector will need to address.

“We are living longer, but not necessarily in way that means we make the absolute best of later life. To address this reality, we need social care to be preventative, but also to build its capacity to enable us all to live the lives we want in our old age. So let’s build a system that encourages earlier planning, starting with the lowest level of need and creating a culture where accessing care and support becomes a normal part of the ageing process.”
 

Notes to Editors:

Polling was conduct between 29 March and 2 April 2018, and is based on a sample of 2,106 Adults. The survey work was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

 

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Find out more about what people told us about what they want from social care services in the future.

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