These are the times of social care. It is one of our main topics of conversation. With an ageing population, a growing dispersal of the family and the continuing downward pressure on finance it is an issue that is going to run and run.
The proportion of the elderly is getting greater and greater. By the end of the century in the United Kingdom, the number of working-age adults for each person 65 or older will drop from 3.6 to 1.6. Who is going to pay for all of the services?
It is not young people that are causing the surge in population. There are as many young people now as there were in the middle of the last century. The percentage growth in the elderly population is huge, especially in men.
At a recent North East ICT Managers’ meeting, five of the authorities were in the process of replacing the social care systems. Two of the authorities were not there and so it could have been more. It is a bonanza for the system suppliers.
Yet the market for suppliers is tight. The legislation and control that surrounds the social care market in the UK is highly complex which has led to a high cost of entry for anyone wanting to pitch in with a new system. This has meant that choice is restricted and that the market is effectively broken. I am not suggesting that the products on offer do not do the job, they clearly do but rather that their customers are left really it a Hobson’s choice. Take one or the other.
There needs to be more choice within the social care applications market, with more players who can occupy niche positions and bring greater innovation to what is one of our most pressing social issues.