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Article Type: Editorial From: Working with Older People, Volume 18, Issue 4
As this is the last issue in Volume 18 of Working with Older People and the last issue for this calendar year, I am going to highlight some of the important developments for older people in England this year. I know that the readership is international and that there have been important developments across the UK, not just in England. However, for this editorial I have highlighted developments where I have noticed the greatest impact in my working life.
The Care Act is the most significant development for older people in 2014. Norman Lamb described it as the biggest reform to the social care system in more than 60 years. There has been debate and indecision since Andrew Dilnot an economist made recommendations on how long-term care would be funded in the UK in 2010. The Care Act finally addresses this and puts a cap of £72,000 on the amount people pay towards their care before the state picks up the cost. It is not overly generous, but a fairer system than the one that existed before.
In December last year guidance on using the Government's Better Care fund was published. An investment was made by central government for local authorities and the NHS to work together to achieve better outcomes for older people by putting the person at the centre of care, joining up services, providing care closer to home, improving information sharing and making services more accessible.
Providing care close to home and avoiding the distress of hospitalisation for people living with dementia is always preferable. However, sometimes admission to hospital is unavoidable. In this issue Misa Komatsa describes how people living with dementia can best be supported when moving to recovery phase wards, from her experience in Japan.
In 2013 the Government made a commitment to join up health and social care by 2018, see my editorial on this topic (Klee, 2013). It was included in the Care Act and has been the focus of local authorities and the NHS throughout this year.
The Care Act also provides legislation for the use of personal budgets so that older people and other vulnerable adults can buy personal care tailored to meet their needs. Norrie Early's paper in this issue of the journal looks at the experience of one local authority in extending personal budget payments.
In April of this year there was another care home scandal showing the abuse of elderly people at two care homes in England. A Panorama programme, Behind Closed Doors – Elderly Care Exposed (30 April 2014) showed distressing footage, captured by hidden cameras, of care workers roughly handling and taunting a woman with dementia and another of an elderly lady crying out for hours for assistance to the toilet while staff ignored her calls. This has prompted a debate on the use of hidden cameras to uncover the abuse of adults at risk. Care homes get a bad press but there are also examples of excellent care. In this issue Jill Manthorpe looks at what makes front line staff enjoy their work, when working with people with dementia. Having a happy and fulfilled workforce is likely to result in to better care.
In June the Department for Work and Pensions (2014) published Fuller Working Lives – A Framework For Action. The state pension age is due to rise to 66 years by 2020 and to 67 by 2028 in the UK. Fuller Working Lives, recommends how working longer can benefit individuals, businesses, society and the economy. Working for longer will suit some people but not everyone. As the default retirement age is removed altogether there is an interesting debate on what this will mean for future generations of older people.
In October this year Trading Times, an organisation that matches people over 50 years of age to work opportunities, hosted a series of debates on The Age of No Retirement. I was invited to join one of the debating panels and have asked Trading Times to write a paper for WWOP on this initiative and what it has achieved, so look out for this in the new year.
Retirement is one of many life transitions that most of us experience. Guy Robertson's paper in this issue on Transitions in later life is an interesting read.
Public libraries in England are a valuable resource to us all, throughout our lives. They provide a valuable resource for older people, particularly in retirement, as John Vincent's paper in this issue explains.
In September The Big Lottery Fund announced the areas that that had been successful in their bids for Fulfilling Lives – Ageing Better Funding. This fund of 82 million is aimed at reducing social isolation of older people in England. This is something that I personally feel passionate about. Miriam Wilcox reports in this issue on the success of Silverline, a telephone help line that is aimed at reducing social isolation and loneliness.
These are just a few of the policy decisions and social factors that have had an impact on older people in England this year. There is not room to mention everything, but these issues are ones that have made an impression on me. I have also managed to craftily weave in the contents of this issue, which I hope you will enjoy.
Department for Work and Pensions (2014), Fuller Working Lives – A Framework for Action, DWP, London
Klee, D. (2013), “Editorial”, Working with Older People, Vol. 17 No. 3, p. 95, available at: www.insidegovenment.co.uk (accessed 31 May 2013)
available at: www.gov.uk/government/speeches/care-bill-becomes-care-act-2014 (accessed 10 September 2014)
available at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/better-care-fund (accessed 10 September 2014)