A Life Worth Living

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Author: Alan Sinclair, SCVO

Year: 2011

When the NHS was established in 1948, it was designed to provide primary health care and acute services for all, regardless of income. We have grown to depend upon an all-embracing health service that will diagnose our symptoms; prescribe the medicine; carry out the procedures; care for us until we get better; and look after us until we die.  However, there has been a subtle, but significant, shift in the water temperature. People born between 1946 and 1964, the “baby boomers”, will live longer than previous generations. Thanks to birth control, they have fewer children. This means that there will be fewer young people to support an elderly population, which is living longer into older age with all the associated multiple health conditions and degenerative diseases such as dementia, cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes. Doubts about how we could meet the increased needs and costs of health and care preceded the financial crisis. More importantly many were asking whether, even in easier financial times, we would want to continue spending in the same way. The answer is a loud “no”. This is because, as well as being unsustainable, the current system does not meet our needs for a more personal and sensitive system of care.

It was in this context that the Carnegie UK Trust and the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) commissioned this work to address the challenge which ranges across policy and politics; health; formal and informal care; economics; morality; what the third sector does; as well as what individuals need and want for themselves, their families and communities; and their responsibilities (financial and otherwise) as family and community members.