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Sun, 29 November 2020

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If we are going to get the ageing society right, we need innovation

If we are going to get the ageing society right, we need innovation

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Legal & General

6 min read Partner content

Legal & General are determined to build the great ageing society. We need to bring innovative thinking to the way we support older people - it is another example of inclusive capitalism at work.

The ageing society is not just about people in later life, we are all ageing together, every day. In 50 years’ time there will be an additional eight or nine million over 65’s, and, five million over 85’s.

The challenges the UK faces in providing government services for millions of people over 80 are new, and we want to understand them better.

If we are going to get the ageing society right, there needs to be far more research and development, evidence gathering and innovation.

We need to understand, precisely, why it is that we see huge differentials in Healthy Life Expectancy: 53.3 years in Blackpool compared to 71.9 years in Richmond-upon Thames for men; 54.2 years for women in Nottingham versus 72.2 years in Wokingham.

These differences require detailed thinking and research, so that we can design policy and propositions that support a progressive approach to ageing. The issues are not just about lifespans; the picture we see emerging, and again it is unequal, is the gap between healthspans and lifespans.

Why is it, that in 2020 Britain, some people have a tiny gap between their healthspan and lifespan, and for others it can stretch out to ten, or even fifteen years.

The Longevity Science Panel, established by Legal & General, has been researching these areas for a number of years and their work informs much of our approach to these issues.  

These key questions are the backdrop to Legal & General’s approach to ageing. We see it as a growth driver of our business, as well as, a feature of our society. Companies wanting to excel in the ageing society have to understand it from every angle.

Looking at what is happening to our society as we battle through COVID-19, it seems necessary to us that we need to bring innovative thinking to the way we support older people, particularly when it comes to their accommodation.

This is why, at the core of our approach to ageing is a £20m partnership with Edinburgh University, to establish The Advanced Care Research Centre. Over the next few years the ACRC will focus the talents of its academic leaders on the way that care is delivered in the UK.

Most crucially though, the ACRC’s core mission is positive; we want to understand what works and how we do more of it.

Looking at what is happening to our society as we battle through COVID-19, it seems necessary to us that we need to bring innovative thinking to the way we support older people, particularly when it comes to their accommodation.

We have gifted £5m to the city of Newcastle to build a new model care home with infection control and the best use of materials and technology in mind.

We chose Newcastle to partner with because they are creating a new ‘Being Well’, approach to care that focuses on: ‘community based, person-centric care, with holistic models of support built around the individual, their needs and enabling independent living’. 

The Newcastle project will see the construction of a small (20-25) place registered residential facility designed with around lessons of COVID-19. The ‘new model care home’ will be a prototype which moves away from the traditional large-scale care home to a more domestic, clustered, communal setting.

Its design and operation will incorporate key lessons learned from the COVID pandemic, including on infection control and operation of lockdowns and “support bubbles”, helping to minimise negative effects on residents, particularly those living with dementia. 

The care home’s construction will be led by the City Council who will also own and operate the facility.

The thinking behind the projects in Newcastle and Edinburgh aligns with the work L&G is doing to support people to plan and prepare for the time when they might need to create their own care ecosystem. We will shortly publish an alternative green paper that examines the idea of the care ecosystem and champions innovation in care.

Legal & General was chosen (in 2020) by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to deploy £6 million of grant funding to early stage companies that are making a difference in the healthy ageing market.

In addition to the scientific evidence base we are developing, over the next decade we will continue to lead the retirement community movement in the UK.

L&G is determined to increase the choice and quality of retirement communities. Over the next five years we will build 3,000 new homes for older people.

It is a singular failure that the UK builds only 7,000 retirement dwellings each year for an over 65 population of 12 million and growing, and the UK only provides retirement communities for 75,000 people 0.6% of UK people over 65 belong to a retirement community, whereas the figure is 6.1% in the USA, 5.4% in New Zealand and 4.9% in Australia.

 L&G is determined to increase the choice and quality of retirement communities. Over the next five years we will build 3,000 new homes for older people.

We are also using cutting edge techniques to keep our network of Inspired Villages and Guild Living communities safe and secure for residents.

As the NHS moves on with its Forward Plan, healthcare will change to become more proactive and prevention focussed.

An example of how we are working with the reform programme is the development of ‘Dementia Friendly’, environments. Inspired Villages staff will have a good level of understanding and training in supporting residents with dementia. The design of homes and communal facilities will also take into consideration people living with dementia.

The village will provide appropriate activities, therapies and events that are accessible to those living with dementia and support them and their families in staying put within the village community. The village team will seek advice support and expertise from the Personal Care team and with the Primary Care Network.

The aim is to maximise the opportunity of someone remaining in the village if, and until such time as there is agreement, that this can no longer be safely achieved.

Across the Legal & General Group, we are determined to build the great ageing society. It is another example of inclusive capitalism at work.

Using a combination of academic research, innovative design and patient capital, we are determined to reduce health and longevity inequalities; support the creation of a new and better system of long-term care, and ultimately, improve the way that we look after each other as we age, together.

 

 

 

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Inclusive Capitalism

The next decade holds big challenges and it rarely has it been so important to show that capitalism and social progress aren’t opposing forces. Quite the opposite. All it takes is a longer-term view, a more inclusive attitude and for everyone to take that first step.

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