Saturday 19 January 2019
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Ex-soldiers plight - more care homes should meet needs of under 65s

An influential think-tank Commission has stressed the need for more care homes to cater for working-age people, after the plight of a British war veteran left him isolated and without support. 

Alan Murray, a former RAF reservist, suffered a heart attack a decade ago aged 50. A brain injury, resulting from a delayed ambulance, meant he required round-the-clock residential care. However, his first care home couldn't cope with Mr Murray’s specific needs as the other residents were mainly older people.

This all-too-common problem for working-age people in care was only solved when Mr Murray was moved to a Leonard Cheshire Disability care home in Inverness that recognised the importance of socialising with residents his own age and making decisions about his life.

Demos polling reveals that people’s top priorities, if they become disabled before old age, are ‘being close to family’ (48%) and ‘remaining independent’ (44%).

These beat medical concerns such as ‘having carers or medical staff nearby’ (36%) or ‘having someone on hand to look after me’ (23%).

However, when they were subsequently asked which locations would best meet their needs, only 2% said a care home. Instead, a quarter (25%) would prefer living with family or friends (25%), or in adapted housing (21%).

The findings will feed into the Commission on Residential Care (CORC) – chaired by former Care Minister Paul Burstow MP and supported by Demos. The year-long Commission is tackling the most pressing issues in the residential care sector, and finding solutions that can ensure the sector is able to meet the growing number of younger generations needing care.

The rise of working-age disabled care
Recent PSSRU data says Britain can expect a 32% increase in younger adults with learning disabilities requiring care by 2030, and it goes on to show that residential care is the sector expected to see the most growth in demand.

Injured armed forces will also increase demand. Since 2005, 18,650 people have been awarded payments under the Armed Forced Compensation Scheme. However, Ministry of Defence figures reveal that almost half of the individual 47,670 claims made in that period (41%) were rejected.

The Sun last month reported on a Demos essay, which called for a British GI Bill for wounded war veterans, to ensure they receive better education, training and support after returning to civilian life.