Connell Consulting
Senior and young holding hands

HealthInvestor Sept 2014: Coming of age

Pressure on council-funded home care is forcing local authorities to innovate, resulting in the growth of technology to support older people, finds Clare Connell of Connell Consulting.

Faced with a fastgrowing elderly population and budgets under pressure, it is no secret local authorities (LAs) are looking for ways to control expenditure on residential care homes by keeping older people in their own homes for longer. What is interesting to note is the number of ways technology can be used to help LAs achieve this. Whilst basic telecare technology is offered by most LAs and housing associations, investment in more advanced technology and support services can deliver huge cost savings by delaying admission into residential care by months or years.

LA budgets have been under increased pressure since the Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010. According to the Audit Commission’s report in 2013, expenditure on older people was reduced between 2009-10 and 2011-12 by 8.5% to £9 billion. Adult social services teams have been decreasing the number of hours covered by local authority-funded home care packages. In many cases they have introduced price-driven commissioning approaches and minute-by-minute billing to cut the cost of provision. The eligibility criteria for council-funded home care have also been further reduced, resulting in many older people being forced to fund their home care privately.

The growth of self-funded care and direct payments means that more older people and their families have greater choice and flexibility over what services they access and are recognising the value of new technology and tracking services. This means that independent providers of home care and support services need to market themselves to end consumers, while previously their focus may have been local authority tenders.

In terms of expenditure, the UK telecare market was worth £106 million in 2010 and is expected to grow to £252 million by 2015. The potential for spend on telecare is large with expenditure by private consumers in 2008 exceeding that of local authorities. Private individuals spent £244 million that year compared to the £177 million spent by local authorities. With the potential market growing, the gap is likely to grow further…