‘More families should care for elderly loved ones at home’ say senior government politicians
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Two senior government figures have suggested that British families should care for their elderly relatives in thier own homes, rather than pay for them to move to care homes.
Writing in the Telegraph in early October, Christopher Hope, and Laura Hughes reported that at a Conservative Party Conference fringe meeting, British secretary of state for business, innovation and skills, Sajid Javid said more families should consider putting up parents or grandparents in their spare rooms to ease the crisis in old age care and boost family life.
“My parents are from Asia and they taught me that family was at the heart of everything,” Mr Javid told the fringe meeting. He said that he had been surprised, during a spell working for Deutsche Bank in Singapore, to find that whenever “we went to look for a property if was advertised as having three bedrooms, it actually had four bedrooms”. When he challenged local estate agents about this, he was told that all flats came with an unadvertised extra bedroom, which was called an ‘Auntie’s room’ for parents or grandparents to live in.
“The ’Auntie’s room’ is a room for parents, or your grandparents. And they just assume that when you get a place for your parents, you will have a place for your parents – you will look after your parents. I think we can do with a bit more of that Asian attitude in Britain.”
Mr Javid’s comments were echoed by health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who said families had to make space for grandparents because there was not enough room in care homes. He told a different fringe meeting: “With those million more over seventies, we would need 37,000 more care home beds by 2020, based on the ones we currently have.
“That would mean 100 care homes opening every single month between now and the end of parliament in 2020.
“Now that isn’t going to happen and we have got to ask whether we need to make it easier for people to have their elderly parents living with them.
“At the moment only 16% of the elderly live with their children, it’s 65% in Japan. Other countries do these things differently.
“There will always be some people who need to go into residential care and these are very important decisions, but I do think we’ve got to look at what we do to mobilise the army of families who want to help us get the right solution to this problem.”