Anchor, England's largest not-for-profit provider of housing and care for the over 55s, has issued a rallying call to transform the way services are planned and designed for older people.
Anchor cites neglect, loneliness and inadequate care funding as just some of the reasons why it is calling for change in setting out its Grey Pride Manifesto, which supports growing calls for a minister for older people.
Research commissioned 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 62 per cent of 18 to 34 year olds who expressed a definitive view backing the move.
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. The current situation, outlined in Anchor’s manifesto, suggests why 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. These issues, argues Anchor, 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, 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 per cent of over-65s. Such a role is already in place in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Anchor chief executive, Jane Ashcroft (left) said: “We are in desperate need of a better response to our ageing society – for the benefit of the older people of today and tomorrow. Successive governments have failed to address these issues and without radical change we face an old age of increasing polarisation, suffering and loneliness.
“It is for this reason we are calling on government to appoint a minister for older people in the Cabinet who can lead the cross-departmental approach, as well as a commissioner for older people to champion older people’s needs.
"We are not calling for a new ministry to be created – we would like to see an existing Cabinet role expanded to address critical issues that require debate at the highest level.”
Anchor first made the call for a dedicated minister for older people two years ago, after 137,000 people signed a petition. In June 2012 MPs voted in favour of a motion calling on the government to consider making such an appointment.
Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, said: “There is systemic discrimination against older people in society and we need a minister for older people at the centre of the government, challenging every department to ensure equality of access for older people to all services. It would be particularly good to complement the ministerial post with a commissioner, who would hold the system to account and ensure that older people received dignity, equality and fairness”.