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The University of Southampton
The Care Life Cycle

University of Southampton and ILC-UK urge better modelling of demand for health and care services

Published: 30 April 2013

The University of Southampton and leading think tank on demographic change, The International Longevity Centre - UK (ILC-UK) came together today to urge local and national decision makers to engage with the best available evidence when making decisions about the future of health and care.

At a Parliamentary reception in the House of Lords, policy makers, academics and politicians learnt about new computer models that are being developed at the University of Southampton which focus on the future demand and supply of health and social care.

Speakers included CLC members Professor Jane Falkingham, Professor Maria Evandrou, Professor Sally Brailsford and Dr Amos Channon, and focused on some of the work being carried out within the CLC programme.

Two case studies were presented during the event: the first examining the demand for local authority social care services including the impact of changing living arrangements and family structures on informal support; and the second used the example of macular degeneration treatment to examine the complex interaction between health and social care.

The computer models presented ranged from modelling the complex lives of the population as a whole, through to services within an individual local authority and finally down to the level of the operation of an individual clinic.

The research has brought together clinicians, computer scientists with social scientists from demography, operational research, gerontology and social statistics.

ILC-UK's work on the cost of ageing, published in 2012 noted that current UK projections see age-related spending rising by around £79 billion between 2016/17 and 2061/62. The report found that there was significant uncertainty in future cost projections, calling for government to prepare policies that can adapt to unexpected changes.

Southampton's research highlights that future costs will be sensitive to changes in family structures and the willingness and availability of people to provide care to kin.

The research also demonstrates the need to be joined up in thinking about health and social care, showing how improvements in the operation of an eye clinic, and thus the sight of patients can also have a positive impact on reducing the need for social care. Money invested in one part of the system can generate savings elsewhere and thus improvements need not have a total net cost.

Baroness Greengross, Chief Executive of ILC-UK and the host for the event, said:

"If we are to improve health and care in an ageing society we need to ensure that policy makers are informed and working from a strong evidence base. High quality independent academic research plays an important role in both the design and evaluation of effective policy and practice. ILC-UK was delighted to join forces with the University of Southampton to highlight new research that supports and can contribute to meeting the challenge of an ageing population."

Professor Maria Evandrou added:

"Meeting the challenge of an ageing population requires energy and expertise from across the disciplines. By better sharing our expertise with policy makers and organisations like ILC-UK, we can improve policy planning and practice and thus the lives of older people."

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