Caring for older people

Helping our ageing population

The fact that people are living longer is something we should celebrate. But our ageing population also brings challenges – for families, businesses, public services and public attitudes towards the way older people are seen and treated.

I’m proud of Labour’s record in Leicester West:

  • Winter Fuel Payments of £250 for every household with someone over 60 years old, and £400 for every household with someone over 80 years old;
  • free TV licenses for the over 75s worth £142 a year;
  • free bus passes; and
  • free swimming in leisure centres.

Local community resources, like the Tudor Centre in Mowmacre, also provide much needed support for older people through things like regular lunch clubs and bingo evenings.

The improvements in our local hospitals, which older people are much more likely to use, have also made a huge difference. The maximum wait for an operation is now 18 weeks – with average waits much shorter – compared with up to 18 months for cataract operations and hip replacements under the Tories.

Yet I know from first hand experience that too many older people still aren’t treated with dignity and respect by some of our public services. Older people and their carers are often worried about asking for help and scared that if they stop being able to cope, they’ll end up having to sell their home to pay for long term care.

I want to see much more progress on shifting the focus of NHS and social care services towards prevention and early intervention, so that we help older people stay healthy and living independently for longer. A really important challenge is building on the Government’s National Dementia Strategy to make much faster and bigger improvements in dementia care.

I’m also championing Labour’s plans for a new National Care Service, to go alongside the National Health Service, to help make sure all older people get the care and support they need. Labour’s recent pledge to offer free personal care at home for older people with the greatest needs is a small, but crucial step towards achieving this goal.