Excluded Older People: Social Exclusion Unit interim report

The continued importance of addressing pensioner poverty is one of the issues highlighted in this interim report on social exclusion, which was produced after consultation with older people, service providers, and academics by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister on 15 March. More than two million pensioners are living on a low income and 60% of people aged 65 and over have a longstanding illness. Many of these people are unable to access the services and opportunities available to the rest of the population. Lord Rooker comments in the report 'This is just as much about education, employment, leisure and active social roles as it is about health, housing and social care. We need to make these services work for the most excluded older people, and end the situation where the worst-off are often the worst-served.'

The interim report notes:

  • fear of crime and experience of crime is a major issue impacting on quality of life
  • older people should be included in decisions on regeneration programmes for the local community
  • access and mobility are problems in rural areas and more flexible provision of services is required
  • many older people live in poor housing but would not need to move into care if they could get repairs and adaptation work to their homes completed
  • lack of public transport prevents participation in social activities leading to low morale, depression and loneliness
  • participation in learning has wide benefits contributing to individual's enjoyment of life
  • improved access to health care is important; large numbers of older people suffer from depression and mental health problems
  • services for older people are often still designed to suit the provider and lack flexibility - they tend to focus on those in need of crisis intervention and ignore the needs of those requiring more low level help
  • carers could benefit from training and support which would help them continue caring
  • barriers to accessing benefits include means testing; lack of access to information and advice; and stigma
  • discrimination affects large numbers of older workers; people should be offered more flexible retirement options and the traditional notion of retirement gradually phased out
  • some minority groups face double discrimination and exclusion
  • the complexity of funding streams and targets can cause real problems for innovative new services trying to meet the needs of excluded older people

The views expressed by respondents distil down to three key themes for how services for excluded older people should be delivered in the future:

  • the importance of early intervention and low level services
  • the need for joined up and coordinated services
  • the importance of promoting user involvement, choice and control

A research report, Multiple Exclusion and Quality of Life amongst Excluded Older People in Disadvantaged Neighbourhoods, commissioned by SEU and prepared by a group at Keele University, was published to coincide with the launch of the interim report. This presents qualitative data exploring aspects of multiple disadvantage experienced by an especially vulnerable group of older people. Read the report here




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