This report from the Audit Commission came out a couple of months ago (I mentioned it in my first blog post) and it makes some observations about the UK’s ageing population although it is aimed almost exclusively at the statutory sector. Its key point is around the independence of older people – that services should not just be able to cope with those who are vulnerable, but should also be accessible to older people more generally, so more over-65s can retain their independence “Councils need to ensure that independent life is an option for as many older people as possible, for as long as possible”.
I would have to say I agree, although I think there are maybe two or three points to draw out.
The first is that in order to maintain independence, community is key. When we are vulnerable, we need help from others to maintain a fulfilling and varied life, it is our neighbours who can uphold us in basic matters of living – for the infirm it might be putting out the wheelie bin, or picking up a pint of milk, for those who are fit, it might be an added sense of security, someone to water your tomatoes when you go on holiday (and help to continue a life-enriching hobby of gardening). Which leads me to my next point, that community does not have to be complicated, at least not to start with. In May, the Guardian published this article on neighbourliness. Have a read.
My last point is really about the excitement I feel about the increasing cross-over between the voluntary sector (third) and the statutory sector (second)- the report Don’t Stop Me Now is really quite dry reading (hence it took me a whole two months to comment) and I feel as though it is up to the voluntary sector in many ways to add colour, imagination and creativity to a lot of bland and well-structured government edicts.