Nesta chief says a foster system for the elderly should be started
Geoff Mulgan, chief executive of innovation charity Nesta, has called for old people to be “fostered” by friends and neighbours as a means of ameliorating what he labelled the “epidemic of isolation”.
Mulgan made the comments whilst being interviewed on BBC Radio 4 in light of health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s claims that the way Britain treats its elderly is a “national shame”.
Hunt will flesh out his claims at a speech at the National Children’s and Adult’s Services conference on Friday, where he is due to tell the audience that Britain should emulate the model of Asian cultures.
The speech will say: “In those countries, when living alone is no longer possible, residential care is a last rather than a first option…. if we are to tackle the challenge of an ageing society, we must learn from this.”
Hunt will use the speech to flesh out his proposals to set up a new inspection regime for elderly care homes, with the aim of eliminating abuse and poor care, with as many as 25,000 care homes having to pass what he terms a “good-enough-for-my-mum” test.
Mulgan believes that inter-generational living won’t be able to solve the problems of elderly loneliness as it is impractical for many families who don’t live in close proximity. In order to combat this he suggested: “Where they don’t have family near to hand we need to look at new approaches. There is fostering for older people, where if they don’t have a family near to hand they go and live with another family.”
Mulgan even claimed neighbourhood watch groups could be put to better use by helping the elderly instead, but was clear that something had to be done. “Many visitors from poorer countries are shocked when they see how we treat our older people,” he said.