Yesterday’s Census results which highlighted Essex’s increasing elderly population has highlighted the importance of the work being undertaken in the Community Budget Pilot around integrated health and social care.
The 2011 census confirms Essex’s ageing population with the proportion of those aged over 65 reported as 18.3% compared to the national figure of 16.4%. Further to this 2.53% of Essex residents were aged 85 and over in 2011, an increase of 32.98% on 2001.
These figures highlight the potential crisis facing health and social care – how to meet the health and care needs of an increasing ageing population when public spending is falling? This is the challenge the Whole Essex Community Budget looks to address.
Councillor John Aldridge, Cabinet member for Adult Social Care, said: “We have long acknowledged that Essex’s ageing population is higher than the national average. Consequently there will be further demands placed on health and social care which already account for a large percentage of public sector spend in the county. Unless dramatic systematic change is made we will be faced with a crisis whereby we could face significant difficulty in caring for our elderly effectively.”
Councillor Ann Naylor, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “The Whole Essex Community budget work looks to not only address financial concerns but also improve outcomes for residents, giving them the best quality of life. We believe a new service approach which integrates local authority and NHS services is the best way of achieving this. “
It is estimated that Essex health partners already spend £1bn per year on acute care services for those aged 65+. With an increased figure of 41.53% of residents approaching retirement age (60-64), this number will only grow at a time when public sector funds are decreasing. It is estimated that in the next two years alone Essex will need to find £248m to meet the challenge of increasing demand, inflation and funding reductions within health and social care.
In light of this, the Health and Wellbeing project within the Whole Essex Community Budget is exploring the potential of a new integrated approach which will reduce demand, improve care outcomes and share risk and benefit across the whole system.
The new approach would likely see a model which would move away from expensive forms of health and social care support, e.g. acute hospital provision, towards reduced cost options, e.g. community based provision.
We would also envisage that any new approach would produce financial savings by realising economies of scale and more effective provision. In addition there would be an increase of treatments in preferred settings, of the individual’s choice and improved outcomes.