Essex set to see major rise in number of older people needing support

Councillor Beccy Hopfensperger. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Councillor Beccy Hopfensperger. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

A stark warning about the future numbers of older people in Suffolk has emerged as councillors prepare to look at future funding of care in the county.

The number of pensioner households in Suffolk will grow by more than half within 25 years with 172,082 households where the head of the household is over 65 by 2041, calculations by the Office for National Statistics show. That’s a rise of 56%.

And households with people over 85 will more than double, rising by 127% to 39,924.

In Essex there will be 298,987 households where the head of the household is over 65 by 2041. A rise of 56% in that county too. And households with people over 85 will more than double, rising by 116% to 63,466.

The figures have emerged as Suffolk County Council’s cabinet prepares to discuss new ways of delivering home care to adults at its meeting tomorrow.

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During the financial year it provided 2.48m hours of care to 7,106 people in their own homes at a cost of £37.5m.

It has warned that the number of people in Suffolk with dementia is expected to almost double to 24,300 by 2035 and a further 30,000 frail older people.

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There are already too few care staff to meet all the current demand, so with more people wanting care and fewer younger people in the county there could be real challenges in the future.

The projections show that the number of younger households in Suffolk will fall by 2041. Under 25 households will go down by 6% and the 25-34 age bracket by 1%.

The ONS believes that by 2041 there will be an extra 4 million households in England, but this is fewer than previously forecast. It says that the slower growth is due to assumptions about births, life expectancy, migration and new forecasts on the numbers of people who will continue to live with parents or cohabit.

The projections show that in Suffolk the number of households will climb to 379,076 by 2041, while the population will grow by 74,094 to 810,752. In Essex the number of households will climb to 742,938 by 2041, while the population will grow by 245,713 to 1,684,710.

The projections show that the changes to the number of younger households is much less marked in Essex. Under 25 households will grow by 3%. And there will be 8% more in the 25-34 age bracket.

Beccy Hopfensperger, Cabinet member for adult care at Suffolk County Council, said: “We are acutely aware of the impact this projected growth will have on our adult care provision.

“A new home care model will go before Cabinet tomorrow <Tuesday October 9th> which has been carefully drafted to ensure it is future-proof and can robustly manage the challenges that a growing ageing population will demand of us. The new model can be scaled up when demand dictates with new providers able to join our contracts.

“It also allows flexibility of care – tailored to deliver the right care for people at the right time. It is about enabling and supporting people to regain or adapt skills so they can live lives which are happy, as independent as possible and fulfilling.

“The new care model is also committed to early intervention. This means we must provide the best early support, information and advice to keep people well and independent. This will help to reduce the need for long term care.”

“In addition, we are working with residential and nursing care providers to plan for the future and ensure there is the right amount of provision for those who may need to live in a care home.

A spokeswoman for Essex County Council said: “Essex is a growing and ageing county, and we have previously spoken about the need to look at new and different ways of doing things to safeguard and support our most vulnerable residents.

“An increasingly older population, constrained resources and developing new communities are some of the challenges we face, but they cannot be solved in the short term.

“With demand for services growing faster than income, especially in adult social care, we need to help people to help themselves and move towards a focus on early intervention and prevention.

“We have set out our long-term vision to achieve better outcomes for Essex in our organisation strategy, working alongside communities and the NHS to achieve change

“Technology offers significant opportunities for residents to manage their own care effectively. From monitoring at home, to online social networks facilitating care support, ECC and partners will ensure that services are designed to take advantage of the benefits technology brings.”

Dr Elizabeth Webb, of Age UK, said: “The over 85 group is the fastest growing and the most likely to have the greatest needs for social and health care, which has an impact on the NHS.”

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