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Answers overseas Not really . . .

Blog Post 15 November 2017

Answers overseas? Not really . . .

The rich, opulent West would learn lessons in dealing with the ageing crisis from poorer countries, according to an article I read online in The Guardian.

I scan headlines to try to keep up with social care news and get sucked in. Before I realise, I’ve waded through another feature and filed away a blog for the future.

Amelia Hill’s piece tells us we should be adopting initiatives developed in poorer countries. Like them we need to be  “innovative and ingenious” in finding low-cost and effective solutions for us all getting too old.

I wonder, are we to follow these initiatives before or after Government wakes up to the fact social care needs a serious financial lifeline?

Ideas overseas include:

Chile – Devoting a whole city to experiment with elderly care

Brazil – Increasing involvement of older people in democracy through old people’s councils.

Asian nations – Training armies of volunteers in elderly care.

Finland and South Korea – job creation schemes for the elderly.

Finding a solution appears to have become the elephant in the room for too many politicians, but I guarantee every last one of them would wish to see a sustainable remedy soon.

The drift of Hill’s piece is that the UK and US are generally too high-minded to look at lesser social models for a solution, even though there’s a deal of criticism suggesting we need to.

Hill reports the World Bank thinks the UK’s current model is the result of “inefficient use of personal and state resources.”

For me, one of the most promising ‘solutions’ is found in Brazil. It has respected and powerful old people’s councils and age friendly communities.

The guiding principles are:

  • That age-friendly urban design is friendly to all ages, and
  • That “nothing for us, without us” must apply to all age-friendly design.

Senior representation is actively sought for local authorities, business, and the integration of old and young communities.

I am sure there are some seriously good pockets of good practice to be found in the world, but the real answer in my book comes down to home choice.

Simply: Is social care something that Government feels compelled to fund like health, or are we on our own without its support? After many years in the care sector, I have concluded both the NHS and social care need to be joined up for the most effective outcomes.

Seeking new ideas is always a good thing, but before we adopt any of them Government must make clear its intentions towards us.

Debbie Le Quesne - CEO West Midlands Care Association