Relying on informal care in the new century? Informal care for elderly people in England to 2031
The research reported here is concerned with the future of informal care over the next thirty years and the effect of changes in informal care on demand for formal services. The research draws on a PSSRU computer simulation model which has produced projections to 2031 for long-term care for England. The latest Government Actuary's Department (GAD) 1996-based marital status projections are used here. These projections yield unexpected results in that they indicate that more elderly people are likely to receive informal care than previously projected. The underlying reason is that the GAD figures project a fall in the number of widows and rise in the number of elderly women with partners. What this implies is that ‘spouse carers’ are likely to become increasingly important. This raises issues about the need for support by carers since spouse carers tend to be themselves elderly and are often in poor health. The article explores a number of ‘scenarios’ around informal care, including scenarios in which the supply of informal care is severely restricted and a scenario in which more support is given to carers by developing ‘carer-blind’ services. This last scenario has had particular relevance for the Royal Commission on Long Term Care.(Accepted August 29 2000)
Key Words: informal care; family care; older people; long-term care; England.
c1 Address for correspondence: Linda Pickard, Personal Social Services Research Unit, LSE Health and Social Care, London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, UK. E-mail: L.M.Pickard@lse.ac.uk