By Vic Rayner
Silver Pride, Belong Crewe 2018.
The debate around who can talk about ‘ageing’ is hotting up! A recent article by the Centre for Ageing Better explored the challenge that ‘millenials’ were experiencing when wanting to work in or discuss older peoples services – including assertions querying ‘why are you talking about it’ , ‘surely you are too young to think about it’, ‘why would you want to work in this field – it wouldn’t be my bag’ and more. However, for me this is all excellent news, as it means that many more people are seeing the connect between how we plan for old age for ourselves, will be connected to how we plan for older peoples services today.
Both the United Nations and the World Health Organisation have a very clear focus on age as a human right. This is great news for how we focus on an ageing population, and it is important that the older peoples care sector takes on board the implications of the application of that rights based approach to other people within communities. Recognising that it has not only changed the narrative – but has fundamentally changed lives.
With this as a backstop – it was very exciting to have the opportunity, in partnership with the Housing LIN, to work on a session for the inspirational Social Care Future event in Manchester.
We wanted an opportunity to hear from older people about how they would view the future of services, and to do that against a backdrop of people and organisations who were dedicating themselves to offering an alternative. The scene was set – and a panel of enthusiastic pitchers presented their vision and ways of working to a very receptive older persons panel. The panel heard about everything from cohousing and building visionary communities to innovations to enhance the home environment, embrace intergenerational living and the inaugural Silver Pride.
What was both valuable to see in focus was that the interest in older peoples provision was strong, and whilst we heard some leading ideas, discussion around the tables reinforced the understanding that the availability of innovative older peoples services was not high. During the more detailed discussions held following the presentations and with colleagues from NCASC it became apparent that, in addition to a lack of innovative services, the quality and availability of coproduction in older peoples services was not high. We heard about real frustration and anger that the models of care for older people did not always correspond to the way that people felt they would like to live their later life, and that the system needed much more flexibility and responsiveness to meet older peoples needs in the future.
It really does feel that the learning from the work that has predominantly developed with working age adults around what meaningful coproduction in service development and delivery looks like needs to be more broadly and urgently applied to the older peoples sector. For many people, their transition into older peoples provision is predicated on a crisis. Outside of the crisis, as the Centre for Ageing Better study shows, it is not an issue that people wish to discuss – or indeed plan for. However, if you talk to people earlier in life, who might want to influence future provision – people like you and me – there is generally a very strong wish list – which often starts with what they don’t like about what they perceive to currently be on offer – and ends with a vision for what a fulfilled and healthy ageing life, including care as needed, would look like. We need to think more creatively in older peoples provision to ensure we get the voices of those both currently engaged with services, and those who will need them in the future to get a responsive vision of the range of care services that enable older communities to live life and prosper.
Vic Rayner, Executive Director, National Care Forum