Rise of over-65s in Wales a ‘ticking timebomb’

A social care leader has warned the steep rise in the number of people with dementia in Wales is a “ticking timebomb”.

Mario Kreft, the chair of Care Forum Wales, was responding to a new report which shows there are already 11,000 people living with the condition in the north of the country.

According to the study by Denbighshire County Council, there are now 50,000 people aged 65 and over in north with the figure due to rise to 210,000 by 2039.

Mario Kreft said that the report was a “real wake up call” and that “we really need to look at the leadership here in Wales” and how they were preparing for this future.

“We are sitting on a social care timebomb and we need to take urgent action otherwise we will be sleep-walking into a perfect storm,” he said.

By 2039 over-65 are expected to make up 30 percent of the population in the north of Wales, with Conwy and Anglesey likely to have the highest proportion of them, he said.


The report concluded there was likely to be a need for more nursing home places.

Mr Kreft said the findings came as no surprise and highlighted once again the lack of capacity in the system.

“It is imperative that we create a climate to reverse the decline in the number of care homes and get people building them again,” he said. “The sector is chronically underfunded so this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

“Unless more care homes are built, a lot of these older people are going to end up in hospital where there’s no room for them anyway.

“We need the leadership to take the difficult decisions about how in the future we’re going to have a sustainable health and social care system.

“Last year the Welsh Government took a big step in the right direction by identifying social care as a key pillar of our economic well-being.

“It is not happening now because the sums do not add up and if we can’t have a vibrant care sector In Wales, the knock on effects for our services and indeed, for the people of Wales are going to be very, very serious indeed.”

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  1. It’s not just Wales.

    “Rise in postwar babyboomers is a ticking time bomb” should be the title.

    All those babies born following the end of WW2 in 1945 (remember learning about that in school?) are now 70 or rapidly approaching 70.

    They’re all entitled to a state pension and are living significantly longer than the generation that went through the war.

    They going to die later in life, with multiple and more complex conditions than could ever have been imagined when the NHS was established in 1948.

    And it’s their kids (i.e. us lot) who are going to pay for it.

    Sorry to say it like it is.

  2. Aaron Clwyd Jones

    Is there any way of identifying how much of this number is going to be from English people moving to retire in North Wales compared to the estimates if only the local population is considered. I imagine it’s almost impossible to get an idea.

  3. Wrexhamian

    Will North Wales be likely to have a higher percentage of elderly people than the south? If so, why should that be?

    • Margaret Hall

      It’s because lots of people from the NW of England retire to the North Wales coast, especially places like Prestatyn. I have to admit that my father did just that, but he paid for carers privately while still living in his own home and when he moved into residential care (again paid for privately), he moved back to England to be near my brother.

      • Wrexhamian

        It was a rhetorical question, Margaret, but I’m glad you answered it because the spotlight needs to be on the fact that age-demographics (compounded by this terrible disease and the related costs of care) makes it a political issue in North Wales in a way that doesn’t apply to England.

        It is already an issue of public finance. The costs of care for the settlers you mentioned are having to be met from Welsh public funds. I doubt if many of them insist on economic self-sufficiency like your father, and eventually the funding situation will become untenable.

      • You don’t have to admit that fact – there is no guilt! Up until 1999 your father paid into the Welsh and English NHS scheme and this is very likely to have paid his dues.

  4. Gillian Jones

    Aaron, See Yes Cymru Llanell on youtube re budget deficit. Some relevent facts there.

  5. Graham John Hathaway

    Dementia in any form, is an health issue. Not an economic one. It’s socio- economic if anything. The fact we were flogged to death hitherto. Industrial disease or wars . We never graduated to older life. Life in any form is precious. Sacrosanct. How we care for the elderly defines us. Isn’t it time we invested in a cure or at least a medicated answer that addresses a world wide problem. Somebody please answer why we have been so neglectful in research and practice, to deal with a very costly human and spiteful disease.

    The issue raised about why North and South Wales has a disproportionally heavier preponderance at its Northern fringe is highly significant.

    Care for be elderly is answerable to a wiser and more sophisticated distribution of grant aid. Seems Wales is again a reference point for ‘combing the hair of the less able’. It really needs to change and a better understanding of social care needs and how it’s calculated. Blunt and cruel treatment is a hallmark of Tory rule.

  6. The Bellwether

    As a ticking time bomb myself, a user (victim?) of the NHS (from time to time) and Welsh, I really think we need to be careful not to foster resentment against those of us who are fortunate enough not to have been killed off (yet) by wars, industrial exploitation or diseases (even if they come from England).
    Better to direct anger (and votes) at political classes and governments who I am sure are aware of this and who should be taking action to redress it.

    • Graham John Hathaway

      These are wise words Bellweather, and heart felt. Our DNA is probably one of the most corrupted on mix and diversity, particularly from the mining areas of s Wales. The influx of different nationalities is well noted. I always think it adds to tolerance and humanity not detract from it. But this isn’t really the issue.
      This is the a whole lot more. It’s about the movement of vulnerable people from areas where accommodation is a pressing need, by dictate, popular areas where people choose to retire too, natural migration into Wales, but choosing a location that allows high quality leisure pursuits and much more. I can’t see how this demographic can be indefinitely sustained without considerable stress on existing public services, including health.

      I’ve not mentioned cultural shifts or the protection of the Welsh language, which elswhere in Europe ,minority languages are thought of as a birthright and invested in.

      There are references of much concern about the funding of the NHS, and social care. Hence this blog. And the careful quotes of Mario Kreft, chair of Care Forum Wales. We have a ticking time bomb and a serious underfunding of social care provision.
      The NHS and social care is past a crisis point. It’s failing. It’s worse in some areas than others. Policies need revisiting. We need greater scoping and discussion. Unfettered and open. In the scheme of things Government is turning increasingly to private enterprises to deliver services. A creeping by stealth to create a quite different animal. The NHS on inception. soon established itself as Britain’s most loved institution. It’s now in free fall. The spectre of people dying on trolleys in corridors is just another short lived news item.

      I’m sick of hearing Britain has the 6 th biggest economy in the world. Therefore it has wealth, by definition.

      Why are we still pursuing costly privatisation of public services that NewLabour as I recall never completely dismissed.

      Health economics is fully in play, and critical in some parts of Wales. We were promised during the EU referendum £350m per week for the NHS because it’s needed. Politicians keep repeating free at the point of need and delivery. Yet still underfunds and may be seen to prefer the road of private delivery. As some saviour in the wings. Is it being run down to pave it’s way to another mode of delivery.

      The fact that we have never paid into a dedicated NHS fund. Only a National insurance fund, including all benefit payments. This was muted by a previous post. Therefore those now drawing on the Welsh health expenditure in areas of a high incidence of elderly will saturate it’s resources. And reflect on its deficite, and ability to deliver an effective and high quality health service.

      This all needs considering and by way of notice, an increased expenditure in grant aid.

      A very useful and interesting book entitled ” The political economy of health care” A clinical perspective and written by Dr Julian Tudor Hart is an essential read. There is much reference on the web, if you care to look.
      Dr Hart , whom I have had the pleasure to meet and his wife Mary, was a doctor for 30 years in Glyncorrwg Afan Valley.

  7. Tim Richards

    As Margaret Hall said this is largely down to the influx of English pensioners who retire to live in North Wales – its been known as the Costa Geriatrica for years…………….

    • Tîm, these elderly that you perhaps dislike, paid into the joint NHS scheme initially and are thus more entitled than some younger people.

      • Graham John Hathaway

        Your points are very well made. And justified. If only the NHS recognised dementia as a disease that itself should be treated and nursed within its remit. Sadly it doesn’t. And that is crucial. The whole of social care sector is in the spot light and desperately needs much more investment.
        But I’m with your sentiments henacynflin. I only wish it was different.

  8. JR Humphreys

    Cost a Geria………well maybe the whole shebang will explode soon, and on to private. I advise keeping slim and fit.

  9. Graham John Hathaway

    Good advice JR but I think it’s also called off – shore accounts! Ok for the well connected. Damo!

    • JR Humphreys

      I can sympathise, honestly. I propose small town/village centre private clinics, with state university hospitals taking care of A&E and the more complicated, expensive care.
      You get automatic subsidy for treatment and pharma.
      A bill could be passed blocking international conglomerates to keep things small and intimate.
      (This is very close to the system I already use here in Suomi.)

      • Graham John Hathaway

        It seems now a full realisation that the present health and social care system is systemic melt down. It’s kept on its wobbly feet by the professionalism of its staff. Planning health care provision must be the nightmare role, and thankless. Fortunately Wales has self management of its health services but of course restricted by by the ceiling of its annual allocation of grant decided by Westminster under much discredited way of allocation of spend on public services. Not based on identified need but under a crude Barnett formula.

        Somewhere in the region of 48 % of the whole vote is devoted to health. It means a shaving of allocation to other areas of public service including Education, and Local Government services in Wales. Hence the knock on effect of increased Council tax or rates for most if not all of us. It sounds desperate, and it is, with Authorities elsewhere declaring over spends and cut backs, and red lines crossed.

        So the options of pump priming changes in delivery of health care are limited. It was the Liberal Democrats who have previously campaigned at elections for extra personal taxation of penny or two on income tax.
        It’s generally not met overly with joy. Yet needed. There’s such a lack of trust in politcs generally. Hence the populist movement is gaining.

        It’s well clear that we are on the cusp of change in delivery of services with a greater role in the social care sector and I offer AI and interactive technology. But I see merit in the decentralisation and delineation in services to more local and town services, in a collective. Let’s see!

  10. I don’t think that increasing longevity and consequent increase in numbers of people over 65 needs to be seen as such a threat in and of itself.

    After all, if a certain percentage of people spend the last 10 years of their life with increasing chronic illness, infirmity, having significant care needs including residential care, whether this is between the ages of 55-65 or 95-105 doesn’t affect how much it costs, except that in the former case they have had 40 years less of life, and 10 years when they would have been expected to be paying income tax but weren’t due to being out of work and on sickness/disability benefits.

    One can look at census results and see how many people of a certain age were born outside Wales, though this doesn’t distinguish those who moved during working age, from those who moved at or after retirement.

  11. vicky moller

    When a string of neighbours were all looking after a disabled parent at home it made the idea of a retirement or care home in every street or village a sensible solution making it easier for neighbours to share the care. Without the regulatory ton of bricks, and with some central support eg free loan secured by the home, then this could work and be community enriching.
    As for sacredness of life what about the sacredness of death? Its vastly under rated. Dying is a great thing to do at the right time and we should stop treating it like the ultimate crime or failure. Many I have known had wonderful deaths, proactive and inspiring. Generally a ‘throw away the medicines and stop eating, and everyone visiting for an awesome farewell. It is possible to love someone to bits, miss them deeply and not feel sadness at their death but a deep sense of resolution,, reverence, inspiration.

  12. For people that have worked and paid into another countries health system, they should have the right to retire in Wales and those schemes that have taken the monies should pay up to the Wales GIG / NHS for their patients care. Just as non-EU migrants do.

    I have worked in England and paid into their schemes and that scheme should support my future care in Wales and not burden Wales contributors for the proportion of the time I spent paying into a non-Wales scheme.

    The English government should honour its commitments.
    It is the same as contributions made to a PPP plan: that the value is with that provider and not with any other, except if an ombudsman insurance scheme exists.

    • Graham John Hathaway

      Ernest, this plays into a scenario upon which the insurance and pension scheme in Britain was founded upon. A contribution/ payment through an insurance stamp. Although it has changed, but not in principle. There are sliding scales according to salary, but the idea that you need financial support then your contributions come into play. I don’t see the difference, as you neatly explained with regards to health care. It’s the standard taxes you pay as a patriot, gives cover to firstly yourself, but secondly to those in your community who fall into those uninsured, or who have been disadvantaged in some way through life. The safety net concept.

      It is not being selective or discriminatory. The same applies to those moving the other way. But when you have a major influx from elsewhere into a limited geographic area, of highly depended residents this leads to an unbalanced community in terms of needs and support. It makes health planning a lottery when you plan for pinch points in the difficult times of the year, and roll out a programme of operations and staffing levels.

      Besides this when accounting is based on a country by country receipts and expenditure on all matters including health, often set on a pro rata basis then the net deficite hides this and other expenditure that is incorrect. It leaves Wales with a £14 billion shortfall, you would think would raise an eyebrow with those who set the budgets and look at least to minimise some of this false picture. I can assure you there is room for a more equitable and fairer set of accounts. I shall leave it to you as to why this false picture is left as a flag.

      Thanks for your response, appreciated.

      • If I was to retire in France, Spain or New Zealand it would be those countries that pay my pension because my NI credits and tax would have been paid into the UK scheme so I expect UK government to pay me my retirement pension.
        The same should be if a person retires in Wales after paying into a non-Wales scheme.

        The problem comes, as I understand, because unlike a PPP which is invested there are no investment accounts (state pension ISAs) at the UK DWP but current pensioners are paid from current contributions hence the need for more young workers to pay for the current pension payments. This actually is a ponzi plan as it needs to draw more people into the scheme to work, there is only limited land and space for environmental reasons: so this set is doomed to fail as all ponzi schemes do !
        – A new Wales would need a proper invested scheme. Our new country needs state invested assets that bring in a dividend just in the same way that individuals receive when they invest in equity products.

        • Sorry, It would NOT be those countries France, Spain or New Zealand, but the UK to which scheme I have paid into.

          England should pay the proportion of my pension that was paid in England !

          • Graham John Hathaway

            I did read the logic in your first post. It couldn’t have been anything else. So no confusion. The sentiments were well made, you pay into a National scheme ( wherever) and expect good faith to prevail and it follows you wherever. It’s an expectation of morals and economics. A bank of insurance. So why the difference when there’s a cross over of National boundaries. It does or should work both ways.

            On a broader point, the question is fundamental. Wales is a Nation but part of a Union. An Act if Union 1536. Through conquest. It’s not the western end of England. The wash through serves the interest of biggest part of the Union. That is also logic. The biggest % of votes and control over all material things. To the obvious detriment of the smaller Nations. Who struggle to live with the imbalances.

            Yet all who choose to live in Wales, from any part of the Union or elsewhere and have voting rights, will be the beneficiaries of a more prosperous Wales if it disentangles itself from a failed Union. I can only think that not to do so is an home long instinct to your place of birth. And a failure to recognise the differences of Welsh and other cultures. I wonder what the % of Brexit vote was determined in such a manner where the Welsh marches and eastern fringes was well in front on voting to leave the EU. But it’s the same in other ways besides. Iam making the point that flows and demographic changes are making a more or lesser impact depending on the area of impact and seems to have no redress, socially or economically.

            The case for change is pressing. The notion of greater control of affairs in Wales is regarded as extreme form of Nationalism. It’s frowned upon by Westminster and our own Tory Secretary of State for Wales. Instead of steady progress to more devolved responsibility to reflect regional and national differences we are left with a struggling Assembly, under funded and a tokenistic attempt at government. And little powers, even roll back. That is unfair to those who represent us at the Bay.

            We are now facing the backlash of the Brexit vote, and the position of onlooker in these negotiations. It will again not favour Wales economically or socially. Marginalised and lying very exposed. Nothing changes.

  13. Red Dragon Jim

    I posted this, regarding the movement of English, Scottish and Irish people into Wales.

    Does independence mean we stop free movement with England?

    This seems very strange to me as it isn’t the case with Scotland or the SNP.

    We would need a hard border with England. I feel like I have a duty to point out that this seems unrealistic, and would in no way be democratically supported.

    I can picture independence being saleable if it involves minimal disruption, allows free movement and trade with England and Scotland, and keeps the Common Travel Area which also includes Ireland.

    It would be odd for Wales to leave the CTA but for Ireland to stay in.

    Can anyone engage with these issues sensibly? Because if someone like me can’t see the practicality of immigration controls on the English, Scors and Irish, then there’s going to be a bit of a problem selling this.

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