Ready for Ageing? - Select Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change Contents

Annex 17: Service design and delivery (see paragraph 38 of the report)

276.  As Annexes 7 and 16 suggested, the goal of developing services for older people should be to support the happy independence of older people.[501] Focusing directly on the needs of older people can be an effective route to service delivery. Nick Leon, Head of Service Design, Royal College of Art, told us that designing services should be about taking a user-, customer- or citizen-centric approach, and figuring out how to deliver a much richer and transformed user experience, "instead of looking at how one simply configures the service delivery resources in order to deliver what we have today with a modest, simple improvement". He suggested that: "If you design for the old, you can include the young. If you design for the young ... you will almost certainly exclude the old".[502]

277.  A focus on older people's needs is particularly important when designing health services. Public service delivery mechanisms should have as a key aim how services might best contribute to preventive strategies in health and social care (see Annex 13), and, where possible, involve older people in their design.[503] A formal way to involve older people in the design and delivery of health and social care would be to encourage their representation on structures that have emerged from the recent reorganisation of the health system. Annex 16 proposed a potential role for local planners on Health and Wellbeing Boards. It is important that older people's representatives also have a standing position on Health and Wellbeing Boards, to ensure that the design of health and social care provision meets older people's needs.[504]

278.  Urban planning is also important in ensuring that older people have access to the services that they need, and do not feel isolated. Housing developments suited to older people, with gardens, entertainment, and medical or fitness facilities are much needed.[505] Leeds City Council adopted a strategy that involved older people in local planning, which alerted planners to issues that will become even more pressing as the population ages.[506] Urban planning and building design should respond to the needs of an older population. The provision of disabled access and well-designed public toilets will be of growing importance.[507]

279.  Access to public transport, transport routes, types of transport provided and parking restrictions should all take the needs of older people into account, including considering their level of access to shopping and entertainment facilities.[508] This will be especially necessary for older people who live in rural communities.

280.  Older people can find themselves living at a distance from essential services and amenities, or living on large housing estates where they can feel isolated.[509] We heard arguments that older people's housing ideally should be situated in areas of high population density, where people can walk to the shops, there is easy access to social activity and there is good public transport.[510] Action is required before needs become more urgent, as the lead time for such changes is substantial.[511]

281.  Providers of vital private sector services accessed by older people should also consider how their services should adapt to the ageing population. There is evidence that lazy assumptions about older people's needs and desires mean that providers of goods and services are missing out on the expanding older consumer market, which is projected to grow by 81% on 2005 by 2030.[512] However, change is happening in some sectors. We were told by the Building Societies Association that some building societies are adapting. One in the north-west of England provides a drive-through branch, because the majority of their customers are elderly and cannot walk very far, but are drivers. Other branches have lower counters to enable frail customers to sit down while they are taking their money out or putting it in.[513] More fundamentally, however, there is a need to simplify financial products catering to people who are planning for older age. The products that provide for retirement, for example, are extremely complex, and few people are able to judge between them properly.[514]

282.  The way that essential services are delivered will also have to adapt to the ageing population. As more and more services are delivered online, service providers should take steps to ensure that older people, who might not be as computer-literate as people from other age cohorts, do not suffer from inadequate service provision. Though the evidence that the Committee received is inconclusive about the extent to which current and future older people risk being 'digitally disenfranchised', public and commercial operators with a potential user or customer base among older people would be wise to avoid introducing services that are only available online, at least until the trends are clearer.[515] Government might consider supporting initiatives to provide education and skills training for older people, not just for those who wish to work in later life but also those seeking guidance on how to keep up with a changing technological world. We heard evidence that training and education have significant health and social benefits for older people, because they help to keep people stimulated and connected to wider society.[516]

283.  The continued growth of the country's older population means that action to combat isolation, loneliness and social deprivation among older people has acquired a new urgency. The Government have a responsibility to support older people to gain equal access to public and private services and to continue to engage closely with the rest of society.

501   Q 501 (Len Street). Back

502   Q 507 Back

503   Alliance Boots. Back

504   Q 559, Q 558 Back

505   The Saga Group. Back

506   Q 575 (Dennis Holmes), Q 558. Back

507   Q 507; see also the All Party Parliamentary Group For Continence Care report, Cost-effective commissioning for continence care.  Back

508   Q 501, Q 503, Q 506 Back

509   Age Cymru;Q 558, Q 575 (Dennis Holmes). Back

510   Q 507 (Dr Mitchell). Back

511   Q 506 (Len Street) Back

512   ILC-UK, The golden economy-the consumer market place in an ageing society, David Sinclair, December 2010.  Back

513   Q 502. Such counters may also be wheelchair-accessible. Back

514   N. Barr and P. Diamond, Reforming pensions: principles and policy choices, chapter 4. Professor Nicholas Barr, The Saga Group. Back

515   Q 502, Independent Living, LITRG, Age UK. Back

516   Q 501 (Len Street). Back

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