5.1 Demographic changes
Demographic change is one of the most important factors that is impacting – and will continue to impact – on the workforce. By ‘demography’ we mean the study of populations and how they change. The World Health Organisation has said that:
Demand for service providers will escalate markedly in all countries – rich and poor. Richer countries face a future of low fertility and large populations of elderly people, which will cause a shift towards chronic and degenerative diseases with high care demands. Technological advances and income growth will require a more specialised workforce even as needs for basic care increase because of families’ declining capacity or willingness to care for their elderly members.(World Health Organisation, 2006)
Scotland is no exception to these changes: because increasing numbers of people are now living longer, the number of older people in Scotland is rising. The number of Scottish residents of pensionable age is projected to rise by around 26% between 2010 and 2035 (Scottish Health Survey, 2011). These changes are affecting the demand for health and social care services, and therefore the kind and size of workforce that we need. In a report called A Force for Improvement , the Scottish Government said that these demographic changes mean that there will be an increasing need to focus on:
- providing care closer to home
- promoting self-care
- providing joined up health and social care
- long-term conditions
- meeting increasing requirements for cancer, dementia, orthopaedic, mental health and older people’s services, among others.
The 2011 census found that - for the first time - there were more people over 65 than under 15 years of age in Scotland (Scotland's Census, 2012). This changing balance between younger and older people has implications for today's children - and their potential roles, both as unpaid carers to the older generation, and as members of an increasing health and social care workforce, many of whom are in what are traditionally low-waged jobs.
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