Preparing to care – our work on ageing

handsWe are living through a huge demographic shift in the UK, one that is set to cause fundamental changes in the way we do things.  There are now more pensioners in the UK than there are young people.  With the older population set to double over the next 25 years, by 2025 half of the adult population will be over 50.  This shift is placing unprecedented demands on society; it will affect us all in some way and will challenge the status quo – from welfare to employment and even family norms.

One of the biggest challenges for us as a society will be how we provide care for the older population and support them to live a high quality of life.  Increasingly access to state funded care is restricted to only those with substantial or critical needs.  There is a large and growing need to create new models of care to meet the gap that exists between those that do not require any support and those receiving formal care.  It is estimated that there are currently over 6m informal and unpaid caregivers in the UK.  Despite this huge effort Age UK estimate that there are over 800,000 older people who are in need of care but are not receiving any support.

Some of the statistics out there are quite startling and ageing is often talked about in terms of burden and crisis – but with this challenge comes opportunity. What it really comes down to is that we need to change the way we do things.  For many older people leading a high quality of life is about being socially connected, living as independently as possible and having a sense of purpose. In the next 20 years there will be 16m people over the age of 65 versus 10m today.  We need to find new ways of engaging, supporting and caring for the older population, against the backdrop of increasing demand and a relative decline in public sector funding. The time is right for us to be preparing for this.

We see a big opportunity in this space for innovations to dramatically improve upon the status quo and to have a large and lasting impact on society.  Our impact fund is committed to working with the best solutions in this space and using our capital, knowledge and networks to take these solutions to scale across the UK.

Over the next few months we will be exploring this space in more detail and this is the first in a series of blog posts we will publish on our findings.  We are interested in hearing from others working in this space, especially from those who understand the needs of the beneficiaries we are aiming to support, and from ventures developing innovative solutions –

By Katie Mountain – Nesta Impact Investments

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