The fast-increasing demand for long term care means that all nations must act decisively to increase capacity, improve efficiency and fund services, or risk severe damage to the health and wellbeing of the elderly and their families.
With governments globally seeking to control expenditure, they can no longer afford to simply build more hospitals and grow the workforce. Innovative approaches are urgently needed to address issues such as lack of user involvement in their own care, poor coordination between health, social care and other services, insufficient preventative health, limited or difficult access procedures and inadequate standards and legislation.
A number of exciting new ideas and practices for long term care have emerged in recent years and the following sub-sections look at some of these developments and consider their transferability to other health systems and cultures.
These advances should be accompanied by a reassessment of the role of older people in society, repositioning them as valuable citizens able to make a positive contribution – rather than sometimes being viewed as a burden.
"The US has not been as organized in innovating a national strategy for aging as some other countries in Europe and Asia. We haven’t yet had national momentum around how we are going to innovate for double the need with less capacity, including fewer professional caregivers and fewer dollars."
Eric Dishman, Intel Fellow and General Manager of Health Strategy and Solutions, Intel
Few if any societies have truly faced up to the magnitude of the long term elderly care crisis.