The House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee, under the Chairmanship of Lord Patel, is conducting an inquiry into Ageing. The Committee invites interested individuals and organisations to submit evidence to this inquiry. The deadline for receiving written submissions is Friday 20 September 2019.
When preparing your response, please bear in mind that short, concise submissions are preferred and responses must not be any longer than six sides of A4–bullet points are acceptable. We do not expect you to address every question below. Equally, if there are any crucial issues not captured by the questions we pose, please highlight what they are and explain their salience.
How to submit evidence is set out in Annex 1 but if you have any questions or require any adjustments to enable you to respond, please contact the staff of the Committee on the details provided. The deadline for receiving written submissions is Friday 20 September 2019.
Public hearings will be held Autumn 2019. The Committee aims to report to the House, with recommendations in spring 2020. The report will receive a response from the Government, and may be debated in the House.
Life span has increased over recent decades, but health span, the period of time people live in good health, has generally not kept pace, and so older people are living longer with ill health. This increased duration of ill health, both physical and psychological, and often compounded by loneliness, can be challenging and unpleasant for individuals. The increasing number of people affected is also placing pressure on health services and social care, threatening to overwhelm the funding mechanisms, and failing those in need. Increasing health span would mean that people could live independently for longer, with better health and wellbeing, and would reduce pressure on services and finances.
Increasing health span has been adopted as a policy objective by the UK Government. “Ageing Society” is one of the Government’s Industrial Strategy’s four Grand Challenges, and the stated mission is to “Ensure that people can enjoy at least five extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035, while narrowing the gap between the experience of the richest and poorest”.
This inquiry will seek to determine whether the Government’s ambition to increase health span is achievable in principle, and which approaches may be most successful in practice. It will also look at the ways in which science and technology can be used to mitigate some of the effects of ill health in old age, and to support older people living with poor health.
We are seeking written evidence from a broad range of people and organisations with experience and expertise relating to ageing. These may include:
Several policy areas related to ageing are devolved to Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. We would be interested to hear about any differences in approach across the devolved nations, and we would hope that our inquiry’s conclusions and recommendations would be of interest to the devolved governments.
The issue of funding the cost of social care is significant, but we will not be considering it in this inquiry because it has been recently considered by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee and others.
We seek evidence about the following topics (specific questions are listed further below):
1.How complete is the scientific understanding of the biological processes of ageing and their epidemiologies (including the relative roles of genetics, epigenetics, lifestyle, environment, etc.)?
2.How firm is the scientific basis for public health advice about healthy lifestyles as a way to increase health span, including physical health and mental health?
(a)What are the practical impediments for this advice being acted on?
(b)Are there examples of good practice in the UK/devolved nations, or elsewhere?
3.Which developments in biomedical science are anticipated in the coming years, in time to contribute to the Government’s aim of five more years of healthy and independent life by 2035? Research areas may include:
4.How complete is the understanding of behavioural determinants and social determinants of health in old age, and of demographic differences?
5.What technologies will be needed to facilitate treatments for ageing and ageing-related diseases, and what is their current state of readiness? For example:
6.What technologies will be needed to help people to live independently for longer, with better health and wellbeing? What is the current state of readiness of these technologies, and what should be done to help older people to engage with them? For example:
7.How can technology be used to improve mental health and reduce loneliness for older people?
8.What are the barriers to the development and implementation of these various technologies (considered in questions 5-7)?
(a)What is needed to help overcome these barriers?
(b)To what extent do socio-economic factors affect access to, and acceptance of, scientific advice and use of technology by older people and those who care for them?
9.What opportunities are there for industry in the development of new technologies to help increase health span? In which areas of medical research and technology development does the UK excel?
10.What more is required for the UK to benefit from commercialisation of its discoveries and inventions relating to healthy ageing, as envisioned by the Government’s Industrial Strategy?
11.How feasible is the Government’s aim to provide five more years of health and independence in old age by 2035?
(a)What strategies will be needed to achieve the Government’s aim?
(b)What policies would be required, and what are their potential costs and benefits?
(c)Which organisations need to be involved?
(d)Who should lead the work?
12.To what extent are inequalities in healthy ageing, as well as differences in acceptance of technologies, a barrier to achieving the aims of the Government’s Ageing Society Grand Challenge?
(a)To what extent could achieving the Government’s aim of five more years of healthy and independent life exacerbate, or reduce, these inequalities?
13.What would be the implications of a paradigm shift to people leading healthier lives for longer, and spending less time suffering ill health? For example:
25 July 2019