THERE ARE many profound questions facing Britain at the dawn of the 2020s. What will be the impact of Brexit when the country leaves the EU? Will the Government finally deliver for the North? And did last month’s election herald any longer term political realignment?
Yet there is another issue which is just as fundamental, if not more so, to the nation’s future health and wellbeing – how can the challenges, and needs, of an ageing society be best met in the coming decade?
This has even more relevance as The Yorkshire Post, once again, draws attention to two recurring and related issues – social care and loneliness – which will resonate at some point, if not already, with every family living in this county.
Thankfully, there is increased awareness about the harmful health effects of social isolation as a result of the award-winning Loneliness: The Hidden Epidemic that this newspaper launched nearly six years ago. Much has been achieved but there’s much more still to do – especially in rural areas.
Yet, while many of the new initiatives are, quite rightly, inspired and driven by local communities, the issue of social care will remain unresolved unless Boris Johnson honours his pledge, on the day he became Prime Minister, to provide a long-term solution that addresses both cost and provision.
With 1.5 million older people across the country receiving care that is not commensurate with their health needs, and many suffering great personal indignity as a result, the greater scandal is the inaction by Jeremy Hunt and Matt Hancock, the past and present Health and Social Care Secretaries.
For, the longer this issue is left unreformed, the harder it will become to find a sustainable solution – with Britain diminished if the elderly, vulnerable and lonely cannot be assured of the care and compassion that should be a basic human right in any civilised society.