The Tomorrow Together campaign from the Technology Strategy Board today reveals the need for a radical change in long-term care, with a survey indicating that over 35 million people brand the system ‘out-of-date’ and ‘in need of an overhaul to ensure it is fit for purpose’.
Three quarters of people want an alternative to a care home if they become dependent in older age, indicating the need for innovative thinking to revolutionise long-term care, including how it is delivered and what it should look like. Negative stories in the media about long-term care have led to the overwhelming majority of people fearing it, and four in five believe that provision is only going to get worse with our ageing population, signalling a clear lack of faith in the system.
The Technology Strategy Board will use these findings to help develop an initiative that aims to re-think the future of dependency in later life. Through a programme launching in March 2013, the Technology Strategy Board will invest up to £2.7m to start a long-term care revolution and support innovation and development, helping to turn the public’s aspirations into reality, and helping to build a better future for tomorrow, today.
The initiative aims to harness the thinking of the UK research community, the commitment of voluntary and charitable sector partners and the ingenuity of social, business, design and technology innovators and entrepreneurs. It will focus their insight, energies and skills on the creation and development of new and exciting products, services and systems that will befit for long-term care in the 21stcentury.
Jackie Marshall-Cyrus, Lead Specialist for the Technology Strategy Board’s Assisted Living Innovation Platform, commented: “It’s vital that we listen to the public and start radically changing how long term care is delivered. Money, as it is currently invested, is not the answer – that’s why we want to kick-start a re-think of what long term care looks like and to ensure that the changes that we want to see start happening now and continue into the future.”
Initial findings show that when it comes to becoming dependent in older age, people value dignity and control over companionship, and they prioritise this over new gadgets and gizmos (only 7% cited gadgets and gizmos in their top three priorities). This emphasises that technology on its own is not the answer. Instead, new approaches are required supported by new and improved technologies so that people can maintain self esteem and purpose in life as they advance in years and require more intensive support.
The public also believes that to make long-term support more personalised, a strong emphasis on innovation is needed. The kinds of innovations people would like to see if they were to become dependent in the future are solutions that would ensure choice, control and autonomy (66%), that they’re treated with dignity and respect (62%) and for long term care to be provided in a way that supports them as an individual and doesn’t change who they are (53%).
Jonathan Mitchener, futurologist and Lead Technologist for Information and Communication Technology at the Technology Strategy Board commented: “We have to remember that there are not going to be sufficient carers for all the people that need caring for. Therefore new products, systems and services will be required to do much more than they do today. The application of technologies is needed alongside other forms of innovation so that people can maintain self esteem and purpose in life as they advance in years and require more intensive support.”
The Technology Strategy Board is asking people of all generations to share their views on what needs to change to improve later life in the UK. People can join the long-term care revolution and share their thoughts by visiting www.tomorrowtogether.org.uk or on Twitter, tweeting their ideas @TomorrowTogethr using #InnovateForAge.