The social care system is widely seen as failing and it has long been clear that fundamental and lasting reform is necessary. Reform is made all the more urgent as an ageing population will mean rising demand for care and support. Projected changes in demographics, availability of support from carers, unit costs of care and other factors indicate that social care in its current form will struggle to meet people's needs. Longer life need not mean more time spent in ill health. Improving public health and developing interventions for long-term conditions could pay major dividends. The old-age "support ratio" (the relative numbers of working-age and older people) is not the most important factor in the likely future affordability of social care. Our society must not underestimate its ability to become more productive and wealthier, nor the contribution that older people will make to that.
In the report below we look at: — The present social care system; — Meeting future demand and costs; — Shortcomings of the present social care system; — Plans for reform; — Achieving lasting reform; and — The way forward.