One in 10 older people face care costs of over £100,000 – but the vast majority of us are not saving to pay for care in later life, according to new Which? research.
Just 12% of adults aged 55 or over told us they have put aside money to pay for potential future care needs – with more than half prioritising other things they want or need to do over planning for care.
Only a third (34%) of over-55s had discussed their preferences for care in later life with a friend or relative, while a fifth (19%) said they did not even know where to look for information about care.
Which? is calling on the Government to use this autumn’s social care green paper to create a social care system that works for consumers and helps them make positive living choices, before crisis-point.
Staying independent later in life
When asked to think about what changes people aged 55 or more would be willing to make if their health and mobility did deteriorate:
- 92% would make adaptations to their homes to aid mobility, such as installing a stairlift or low-cost aids.
- 89% would use outside mobility aids, such as a mobility scooter or walking stick.
- More than eight in 10 would be happy to use a gardener, cleaner or handyperson to stay living independently.
Which? reviews: read our verdict on tried and tested mobility and disability aids, including mobility scooters and stair lifts.
Where to go for help with care
Our research also found that when asked what would be their first port of call when looking into care options for themselves or a relative, Google was the most popular option among all adults – ahead of speaking to their local GP or friends and family.
Fewer than one in 10 would contact their local authority, the Care Quality Commission or a social worker first.
GP were the most trusted source of advice on care and support for older people, along with friends and family – despite local authorities being responsible for providing consumers with advice.
Just three in 10 (30%) of the over-55s we spoke to said they expected to get good quality care through the social care system (36% thought it was unlikely).
Concerns cited included lack of staff and resources to provide care needed and a lack of funding for the system as a whole.
Better social care system needed
Our survey was carried out as part of a brand-new in-depth Which? report, Beyond Social Care: Keeping Later Life Positive. As the Government prepares its forthcoming green paper on social care, our research signals that any policy proposals that put the burden of planning for care on ordinary people may be doomed to fail.
Which? Managing Director of Public Markets, Alex Hayman, said: ‘The broken social care system can not continue to fail older people and their families in delivering high-quality, affordable care when they most need support.
‘The Government must recognise that most people won’t have made extensive plans for their care, so the system must be designed to help people get the support they need at a time of crisis and stress for themselves and their loved ones.’
We want to see a social care system that works for anyone who comes to require support in later life – acknowledging that people are unlikely to plan for their care and supporting them to stay independent for longer.
Our research: Populus, on behalf of Which?, surveyed 2,104 UK adults, of whom 793 were aged 55+ in June 2018. Responses were weighted to be demographically representative of the population.