Social Work and Older People

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Older people and Social Care
My presentation topic is social policy and older people and the key act I’m going to mainly focus on is the NHS & Community Care Act 1990.

Going with the assumption that an older person is one whose age is 65 or over – the one distinguishing feature that they possess is that they appear not to work for a living. Older people have always been a major focus for social policy and because the UK is an ageing society, their importance to the subject is increasing further. Life expectancy has been growing steadily for over half a century and the UK has now reached a point where there are more people over State Pension age than children. In 1950, a man aged 65 could expect on average to live to the age of 76. Today, he can expect to live to 87, and by 2050 to 91. Today there are 10,000 people aged 100 or over. By 2050 there will be 275,000. By 2030, people over 50 will comprise almost a third of the workforce and almost half the adult population. An ageing society is no longer on the horizon; it is here with us today. Before the introduction of public pensions, workers relied on the good will of their employers to provide occupational pensions and in the late 19th century, it was common for people to work until they were too ill to continue rather than a fixed age. The first state pension was introduced in the Edwardian period under the “Old Age Pensions Act 1908” with a state pension age of 70 which was reduced to 65 in 1925, then in 1940 women’s pension age was reduced to 60.

The introduction of the welfare state mainly for older people can be traced back to the Beveridge report of 1942 which identified the “five giants” illness, ignorance, disease, squalor and want – this in turn led to the National Health Service act 1946, Education Act 1944, National Insurance Act 1946, National Assistance Act 1948, family allowances and unemployment benefit which all contributed to the abolishment of the Poor Law System. Fast forward to the 1980s, ageing issues were now taking centre stage on the political agenda and in policy and practice debates. The restructuring of the welfare in the Wake of the Conservative election victory in 1979 was driven by the new right. Privatisation, competition and the development of what Le Grand (1990) called the quasi-market, anti-state and decentralisation of services were the order of the day. The state was left to regulate, finance and co-ordinate care for older people and other vulnerable groups. Whilst there is still debate as to whether the changes in the supplementary benefit rules was a means-tested benefit in the United Kingdom, paid to people on low incomes, whether or not they were classed as unemployed such as pensioners, the sick and single-parents. Introduced in November 1966, it replaced the earlier system of discretionary National Assistance payments and was intended to 'top-up' other benefits, hence its name.) were a convenient mistake or a planned policy of welfare privatisation, the resultant massive growth in private residential care is a legacy that is still being dealt with up to today. The changes introduced by the Thatcher administration revolutionised the fundamental principles which had underpinned policy since the 1940s and began to challenge the key relationship between the state and older people. For instance, a key reform was introduced at the end of Mrs Thatcher’s period in office – the NHS and Community Care Act 1990. .Sir Roy Griffiths – an independent adviser to the government and chief executive of Sainsbury’s supermarkets wrote the report which led to act being implemented. Sir Roy’s 1983 “AGENDA FOR ACTION” report and the subsequent White Paper, “CARING FOR PEOPLE” (DoH 1989) were the key piece of social policy legislation affecting the lives of older people and the context within which these services are provided. The Act was based mainly on three things of ‘autonomy’, ‘empowerment’ and ‘choice’ and was endorsed by many...
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