THE BLOG

Is a Minister for Older People the Answer to Neglect, Loneliness and Poor Care?

31/07/2014 12:41 BST | Updated 30/09/2014 10:59 BST

Neglect, loneliness and inadequate care funding are some of the reasons why older people's charity Anchor, has issued a call to transform the way services are planned and designed for older people. The case for change is set out in its Grey Pride Manifesto, which supports growing calls for a Minister for Older People.

Polling published by Anchor shows 77 per cent of over-65s agree that one individual in the Cabinet should be dedicated to the needs of older people. Support for such a role is also prominent among younger people with 43 per cent of 25-34 year olds backing the move.

The research shows that young people and over-55s agree social care funding and adequate care for older patients in the NHS are the main concerns for later life. This is not surprising given social care funding has been cut by over a quarter in the past four years while nurse to patient ratios in hospitals are lower for older people.

Anchor claims that these issues would be tackled more effectively by one individual in Government having responsibility for ensuring we are better prepared for our ageing society. At the same time, the charity says an Older People's Commissioner should be appointed to investigate issues and hold government to account. The appointment of a commissioner was backed by 73% of over-65s. Such a role is already in place in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Would these posts make a big difference for older people in England?

An effective Minister would ensure that the critical issues facing our ageing population are debated at the highest level. But they would also need clout to ensure that debate led to action and funding.

Commissioners elsewhere in the UK have already demonstrated they can make a difference by championing older people's needs. Together a Minister and a Commission could challenge ageism across government.

Beyond that, our ageing population has implications for people of all ages. You can never start too early to prepare for later life. We need to maximise and recognise the contributions that young and older people make to our society and to each other.

Making life better for older people would benefit people of all ages for generations to come. Will the government rise to the challenge of our ageing population and appoint a Minister for Older People?