Morning parallel session, at the Faculty of Public Health annual conference, on Wednesday 7 July.
Chaired by Laura Donnelly (Health Correspondent at the Sunday Telegraph), and panel members Dame Carol Black (National Director, Health Work and Wellbeing), Andrew Harrop (Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Age UK) and Yvonne Coull (Consultant to, and former Director, Queen Mary University Centre for the Older Person’s Agenda).
How can one extend work life while meeting the needs of an ageing workforce? What can be done to promote age-friendly communities? And how is the recession impacting on the care for the elderly?
Dame Carol Black, the National Director of Health Work and Wellbeing, Andrew Harrop, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at Age UK, and Yvonne Coull, former director of Queen Margaret University Centre for the Older Person’s Pension Agenda, discussed the future challenges of an ageing society at the FPH Annual Conference on Wednesday 7 July.
One of the big issues related to an ageing society is the question as to how to deal with an ageing workforce. Dame Carol Black said that while life expectancy is increasing, health expectancy has not kept up. She argued that in order to build a resilient workforce, support in education and an early, co-ordinated intervention is required. Andrew Harrop stressed that no society can afford to leave a high number of people from their mid-fifties relying on welfare because they are no longer fit for their jobs. Yvonne Coull therefore claimed for flexibility on the side of the employers to meet the demands and potential of older people.
An ageing population does not only impact on the work life, but also changes society. As the number of the elderly increase, communities need to adapt. One aspect of this change relates to the physical design of communities, for example when it comes to pavements, as Harrop explained: “When people feel safe, they are more confident to participate in the communities.” This participation has a positive impact, not least on the interaction between generations, Dame Carol pointed out, and should therefore be further encouraged.
Everyone agreed that the underlying issue affecting all of the discussed topics is the prospect of cutting funds. However, Yvonne Coull expressed the hope that the “older generation that is coming through is more active and more demanding than ever before,” and may therefore be able to lessen the effects of decreasing funding.
The aim of this blog is to encourage discussion and debate on public health issues. The views expressed here are the personal views of authors, and the content does not reflect the official position of the Faculty of Public Health. However, discussion generated here may be used to influence the development of organisational policy.