How much will it cost to provide social care for older people in England in 20 years time? What funding arrangements should be in place to ensure this money is available and supports the high-quality outcomes sought? Particularly now that the ‘baby-boomer’ generation is moving towards retirement, these questions pose serious challenges. Finding sustainable solutions will depend on understanding the demographic, economic, social and health trends driving demand over the coming decades.
At the heart of the issue should be a debate about what social care will do in the future. How will it help people? What outcomes should it aim to achieve? Who should it help? Once its purpose is understood and specified, important decisions can then be made about the range and type of services, the size and composition of the workforce, the implications for housing, the use of technology to assist people to live with more control, and the extent of preventive action required to avoid or delay need.