The UK’s social care system is in crisis — but technology can help ease the burden
Care of elderly people affects us all, whether a loved one requires these vital services, or we simply wish for everyone in society to be treated with dignity in old age.
And so we should all care about the current crisis. Social care is one of the burning issues of our time.
Social care has come up in the various manifestos, with parties pledging to tackle the crisis. Given that the sector has played political second fiddle to healthcare for decades, this is excellent to see. But so far, we’ve seen vague spending promises rather than a proper look at innovative ways to improve the system.
This is a problem, because while the over-65s population is growing faster than any other age group, there are 120,000 unfilled staff vacancies in social care. Acute staff shortages are a major reason the sector is struggling.
Part of the problem is of course funding. The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that an extra £4bn a year is needed over the next parliament for councils simply to maintain current levels of social care — let alone cope with rising demand.
But a lack of skills is just as important. Looking after our vulnerable elderly — one of the most important jobs in our society — is a low-paid, low-status job with huge staff turnover. To tackle the problem, we need to think about how can we can attract people who want to provide excellent care.
This is where technology can help — by making the job more appealing by cutting out admin, and by streamlining the system.
Tech has been widely overlooked as an answer to this challenge… Read more