Adults and Health
Like the rest of Britain, Kirklees’ population is growing older. There are more older people and fewer younger people. The fact that we can all look forward to longer lives is a good thing – we are already seeing how a new generation of retired people are contributing in very many ways to their local communities – older people are often the mainstay of local voluntary organisations. Their input is really important now, and will be even more so, in the future.
We all want to look forward to healthy and independent older age – and working to keep ourselves fit and well will help to make this possible. However, as the balance of our population changes we will also see more and more people needing help to live at home. We expect to see demand for social care for people aged over 65 grow by 30% in the next 10 to 15 years. This is a serious challenge to our public services – there simply will not be enough younger people, or resources, to look after this number of older people in the same way as we do now.
If we don’t change what we do, the growing demands will swallow up the whole of the Council’s budget and more.
We need to find different ways of supporting people and, most importantly, of helping people to stay fit and healthy for as long as possible so that as we get older we can look after ourselves and keep independent with the minimum reliance on public services. Improvements in healthcare have also meant that many children who have illnesses and impairments which would have been life threatening in the past are now able to live longer and more active lives. This is good news for everyone, but also means that we have more pressure on our health and social care resources to make sure that they are properly supported and able to lead fulfilling lives. Some people have lifelong conditions that mean they are always going to need help throughout their lives and we need to make sure that there are enough resources available to help them, and their carers, for as long as they need it.
We are working closely with our colleagues in the NHS who are also taking a similar approach to the way they are changing our healthcare. To meet the challenge of our changing population we need to be clear that caring for each other is everyone’s business – our own, as individuals looking after ourselves; our community’s as we look out for our neighbours, family and friends; our Council’s as we develop our role in supporting the health and wellbeing of the people of Kirklees; and the wider public, private and voluntary sectors as we work in partnership. We have been taking this early intervention and prevention approach – helping people early and supporting people to regain their independence – for a number of years now and we are seeing what a huge difference it is making to people’s lives.