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In recent weeks, there has been much debate about securing the future of social care. Plans are proposed to enable people to lead healthier and longer lives, to champion independent living.

The buzzword is ‘pre-care’. The aim is to ensure all homes are designed for age and mobility.

With the best will in the world, that is, in essence, lifetime homes. That concept has been championed for years; unfortunately housebuilders are inevitably driven more by commercial influences and profit than by corporate responsibility. 

How difficult is it to ensure that a proportion of new homes are built:

-       with level thresholds

-        doorways wide enough for a wheelchair

-       to design room ‘flow’ so, at least in later years, a ceiling track hoist can be installed without major building works? 

These are not major alterations. The impact on build cost is insignificant. Yet these simple design elements can go a long way towards delivering a home is accommodates all ages and mobility. A home that can reduce occupant need for care support. 

In the meantime, pre-care can be achieved when appropriate by using relevant aids, that enable people to remain at home and live without the need for care support. 

We are all familiar with riser recliner chairs. We are not so familiar with toilet lifters. Yet they do the same job only in the bathroom. They help the occupant get on and off the loo. 

Talking of toilets, what about one that really ‘works’ for everyone, however dextrous, however old, whatever religion? A wash and dry toilet can be used as a conventional WC, or, if use are prefers, integrated douching and drying eliminates hand to body contact. 

So, in various ways, pre-care is already available. 

The problem is a mindset.

What is needed is a legislative change to effect the way we view a person’s care needs in their lifetime. A strategy whereby we take a more holistic approach, and look at the longer term/lifetime costs, rather than a short term fix.