This blog is one in a series of blogs on the Future of Ageing, published in the lead up to the ILC-UK Future of Ageing conference on the 24th November. To register to attend this conference, click here.
There is a real danger of the generation retiring between 2025 and 2040 being underprepared for retirement, caused by inadequate savings and pensions pots being overly dominated by macroeconomic tinkering. This is increasing the risk of a “sandwich generation” required to care for the generation above and below them simultaneously.
What this signals is the urgent need for a change in the public’s attitudes towards saving towards our personal pensions pots. Undoubtedly contributions and enrolment rates need to rise. The level of the rate rise may need to be higher than initially suggested by the Government too. The future may see new pension products being introduced to combat the risks associated with Defined Contribution schemes and the expected closure of many Defined Benefit schemes. A hybrid of the two schemes may be a solution. Pension savings will also be expected to take into account costs of healthcare in future life and ultimately a pension pot may need to become the norm and viewed in a similar bracket to a bank account.
Clearly, the pension gap is a key issue requiring urgent solutions from business and government but there are growing opportunities presented by technology, especially the Big Data revolution and Internet of Things, that may also help to address many challenges of the growing ageing society. The use of personal data will help to understand consumer behaviour and what products and services will help them on their journey of ageing, especially in terms of health and social care. Smart technology in the home is expected to play a huge role to enable more people to live independently for longer in their own homes, reducing the burden on society and the state and improving their quality of life. Of course there are risks involved with the use of data and technology but consumers are already prepared to waive their right to privacy in return for rewards for example (just look at the success of Tesco Club Card!).
Increasing consumer comfort with sharing data in return for benefits may drive business innovation in this area. This is certainly expected in the healthcare space, as highlighted in a recent report Lansons Health published in association with Opinium, “People Powered Health: Engaging Citizens in the Future of Health and Technological Innovation”.
Growing consumer engagement on the notion of personal responsibility for their own health and wellbeing will create the grassroots momentum for more autonomous care models, which will also help to reduce costs in the system with individuals staying in their homes for longer and with more community support being planned in the NHS 5 year plan. Hospitals will no doubt look very different by 2030. The NHS vision of the future includes community hospitals at the centre of local populations. Reliance on A&E will be eased through easier access to local GPs too and all this will reduce cost in the system (presently, 80 per cent of emergency admissions who stay for more than two weeks are patients aged over 65, and is an incredible waste of precious NHS resources?).
The challenges to fix the broken system of elderly care are vast, but so are the opportunities to completely redefine thinking of what ageing means to society and the role of the state and business to support the growing ageing population. Culturally, we need a new paradigm of thinking. The baby boomers today don’t like to see themselves as “getting old” and certainly don’t look forward to going into a care home as part of their life plan in the current status quo. A completely new “ageing” vocabulary and language is needed and we need turn the conversation towards enablement as people go on their journey of ageing.
In parallel with this new language we need a new model for innovation in “ageing”, around notions of empowerment and enablement that is centred on what humans need as they grow older to live they lives they want. This will require a multi-stakeholder and cross- sector approach from government, business and the social /charity communities. As citizens first, and as leaders second, let’s start asking ourselves serious questions to understand the problems- and then the solutions to fix them- from a human perspective.
Eric Khilstrom and Tina Woods
CEO, KareInn Head of Lansons Health