In our view, any attempt to measure social isolation is welcome but we couldn’t prevent our tummies sinking a little at the news that they would only be measuring users of social care and their carers. Focussing on this group only may well undercount the true numbers of people lacking social contact. And without delivering on its promise to measure loneliness across the whole population, the government can never really appreciate the millions of people who really need help to combat it.
While the figures did demonstrate that, for those that receive them, social care services help improve lives and help combat social isolation, worryingly, they also revealed that there are now half a million fewer people receiving social care than five years ago. That’s a 30% drop. While the demand for care is rising steadily because of the ageing population, in reality, more people who go to their councils for help with fundamental care such as washing, dressing, eating and going to the toilet, are coming away empty handed. What’s really worrying for us is that it’s onto this creaking system that the government is attempting to graft its flagship Care Act, expecting it to cope with tens of thousands of older people who are – in theory at least – newly entitled to local government help with their care bills.
But since it’s Friday, we’d hate to end on a completely dour note, so let us just take this opportunity to wish a very happy birthday to the patron saint of Italian fashion, Giorgio Armani. Armani today becomes an octogenarian and is still going strong. We have no doubt about the contribution older people can make to the workforce, given their experience, but it really is quite special when someone at 80 has maintained enough cachet to make regular appearances in rap lyrics and to still have his name brandished on underpants around the world.