Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
9:42 AM 1st July 2024

Family Care In Crisis - The Future Unplanned


Still from Home Instead's film
Still from Home Instead's film
Thousands of families in the UK are leaving themselves badly financially exposed by not planning how to look after elderly relatives.

According to research from Home Instead almost half of all family carers (46%) have no financial plan in place with almost a third (27%) know nothing about probate and similar numbers having no power of attorney for elderly parents/relatives (29%).

This lack of planning could end up being financially devastating for many hard working carers and their wider families.

On top of this a lack of choice in how to fund social care is making a difficult situation much worse for many. Home Instead believes future Governments must do more to help provide different options for families struggling with finances and must play a central role in protecting people against the costs of social care.

Other countries have different approaches to providing this social protection – some offering more comprehensive long-term care services funded primarily through taxes (such as in Sweden). Others have dedicated social insurance schemes covering most or some care costs (such as in Germany). More comprehensive approaches give everyone a stake in the services on offer.

Home Instead’s snapshot study of the state of the voluntary care sector also shows that half of all family carers know little or nothing about the social care market generally (59%) and nothing about potential private options (53%).

The state and employers should do more to help family carers - 77% believe subsidised elder care would ease the burden and 81% say employers must make allowances for employees who care for older relatives.

Martin Jones, Home Instead CEO UK and International, said:
“It’s alarming but perhaps not surprising that not enough of us plan financially for how to cope with ageing parents and other relatives. We all live busy lives and we often don’t think about these things until we’re faced with some sort of family crisis. By then it’s often too late.

“Thinking ahead and knowing the options available to you is crucial. But a broader change in the system at a Government level is also required. Fundamental reform in social care funding will provide greater protection and greater choice and must become a priority for future Governments.”

Additional key data from the survey:

Some form of parental or grandparental leave should be introduced as standard (78%.)

As a society and as individuals we should also actively plan (83%) and save (73%) for old age to relieve the burden on the next generation.

Nearly half (46%) believe we should be taxed throughout our working lives to pay for elder care.

Better policy around care would help preserve the financial, mental and social wellbeing of multigenerational carers (84%).

There are an estimated 5 million plus people providing unpaid care in the UK but they are given minimal support from the government or local authorities and so find themselves increasingly struggling, without understanding the other support available to them in the market. The problem is set to get worse as our ageing population grows - there are now more people aged 65 and over in England and Wales than children aged under 15. The number of people aged over 64 has surged by 20% over the past decade in England and Wales, to 11.1 million people. Nearly one in five people are aged over 65.

Still from Home Instead's film
Still from Home Instead's film
Concerned about the scale of the problem facing this under-acknowledged group, Home Instead launched the Take Care campaign to spark a much needed debate about the pressures this segment of society is under and what can be done to support them.

Home care can provide much-needed respite to these under-pressure carers restoring important family relationships that can suffer when somebody takes on a caring responsibility.

To accompany the campaign, the home care provider has commissioned a short, hard-hitting film, based on interviews with representative real life family carers. The film is an unapologetically raw exploration of what day to day life is like for millions of multi-generational carers across the UK.

The survey (conducted by Savanta) spoke to 2000 people across the UK. 65% of this group were carers.