A long term care action group is calling for cross party support to solve the demographic crisis and says public policy must be made clearer so that people can make provision in time for their old age.
Commissioned by the Continuing Care Conference (CCC), Fit for the Future: The Prevention of Dependency in Later Life, makes a range of proposals designed to increase the quality of life of older people, while reducing the costs of caring for them.
CCC is a coalition of charities, insurers and public bodies concerned with care for the elderly.
The study calls for policies to help delay the onset of disability – including health awareness campaigns and improved medical intervention for routine ailments – which it claims will lead to a containment of future costs.
The study called for a clear, well co-ordinated public policy regarding the financing of long term care to permit “rational lifetime savings choices” to be made. It claimed that the viability of privately funded long-term care in the future depended on the ability of older people to pay.
“While those with private pensions have experienced improved living standards, those principally dependent on benefits and the basic pension have seen little, if any, improvement,” it said.
In the future, the baby boom generation would experience disparities between those who had worked all their lives, acquiring pension rights and housing wealth, and those who had not, providing important implications for reform of both pension and long term care provision.
“Any reform which focuses on funding of LTC, either through insurance or charging, faces the problem of providing for those on low income,” it concluded.
“Reform will need to address the problems of targeting and means-testing, including the issues of take-up of means-tested benefits and avoiding the creation of disincentives to save, and extending the poverty trap.”
The report said that a fundamental change to the pattern of, and incentives for, saving in the UK could be required if private financing was to bear a larger part of the cost of funding LTC.
Options included the linking of long-term care insurance policies with pensions or the creation of a “personal social fund”, providing tax-exempt methods of saving for pensions and long term care.