Ashley Brooks

4th May, 2018

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The ‘Gooification’ of Care

When reading my 8-year-old son’s school work last week I was interested to find his ‘time plan of my life’. He started with his early life as a beaver, then progressed to a specific senior school, had an aim to go to university, before marrying and having twin girls. Later on he would become a grandparent before ultimately dying. The twin girls bit amused me (confident boy…though there is still time to change his mind) and overriding, I found his honesty around mortality refreshing. 

Unlike the frankness of my eight-year-old, as we grow older and engage in more detailed life plans, the consideration for later-life planning becomes opaque. As a defence mechanism, our human brains don’t want to face the reality that growing old often results in declining health and restricted mobility, and that death (along with taxes), is a certainty. More specifically, we don’t consider in enough detail how well we might grow old. How fit will we be? Will we need care in our own homes at some point down the line? What if we are left on our own and can’t cope? Will we downsize, or will we future proof our home to deal with some of these issues? What budget should we set aside for this?

Within the next ten years, 25% of the UK’s population will be over 65 and 5% over 85 (Source: ONS). The demographics don’t lie, and amongst other things, we have a huge economic challenge when considering our nation’s social care. Part of our job is to better understand these issues, face up to them, and try our best to help and support our clients through planning.

Specifically, we have become so concerned about the need to plan effectively for later-life that we have developed a bespoke proposition to help our clients navigate towards and through this period in their lives. As part of this, we are building a select panel of quality carers to support care in the home, physiotherapists who can help with joint and muscular mobility and quality regional residential and nursing homes.

In developing our proposition, we looked at how later-life planning is currently approached by marketeers, and were astonished at the glossy veneer applied to it in an attempt, we assume, to commoditise it. Internally we refer to this as the ‘gooification’ of self-care, as it misrepresents how hard looking after yourself can be. We came across a “self-care and mental wellbeing” store selling a set of pencils to help you “focus on your character strengths”, and a £215 necklace to act as a “reminder of the powerful energy, strength and fortitude within you”. To the contrary, the real issue is that, unfortunately, many people in later-life have insufficient financial resources to help improve their quality of life. They rely on family and friends, or are left with such little resources that the only choice is self-care.

Now I agree that it’s better to be thinking about the pleasant aspects of care than not at all, and lovely things like bubble baths, lighting fragrant candles and soft blankets are an aspect of self-care after all. However, unlike all those brands that try and tell you it’s a hot new trend, we are unfortunately required to face the tough reality – the bulk of it is far less glamorous – and it’s important we don’t ignore that.

In our experience, self-care is the part that we take for granted. It’s cooking and eating something nutritious, opening your post, paying your bills, getting out of bed and washing your sheets. It’s recognising when you’ve read too many articles about Trump and need to log off for the day and perhaps most importantly, it’s trying to get out and about as safely as possible.

Don’t get me wrong, later-life doesn’t need to be depressing. It is often also the period in our lives where we have the most time to enjoy and appreciate things. At the same time though, caring for ourselves in later-life is less about self-indulgence and is much more about self-preservation. Ultimately, irrespective of your position, we always advocate the need for a clear plan, well in advance of needing to put that plan into place. We are here to use our expertise to help… we now have a proposition dedicated to it. Ironically, just getting people to think a bit more like an eight-year-old, may be a big help.

*Source: Office for National Statistics

To find out more about our later-life proposition, please find our iCare infographic here.