THE town’s ageing population is set to put a heavy strain on adult services over the next 15 years, according to figures out this week.
It is anticipated that over the next two decades the number of residents over the age of 65 is set to increase by almost 90 per cent.
As it stands there are currently 29,069 people who fall into that category. However, by 2031 this is expected to have gone up to 54,649.
Among similar sized authorities Swindon had one of the lowest costs per head of the older population in 2012/13, standing at £992.
However, the expected population increase, along with a rise in the number of people with long term illnesses, could place a burden on public services which may become unmanageable unless changes are made, say council leaders.
Coun Brian Mattock (Con, Old Town), the cabinet member for health and social care, said: “Managing our population will be challenging. Given our rise in population and a rise of 10 per cent amongst older people with long term health needs between 2010 and 2011, we expect our spend on older people to rise unless we work differently.
“Whilst the overall number of Swindon residents living with a long term condition has increased in line with our overall population, some conditions such as diabetes and respiratory disease have grown faster than that due to near doubling of minority groups where the prevalence of these conditions is higher.
“Other conditions such as dementia and stroke are forecast to increase at a faster rate than our population due to the faster rate of growth of our older and minority populations.
“From 2016 the resources coming into Swindon for health services will match our population growth but fall below the level of demand from our population as we see the over 85 age group grow at 4.9 per cent per annum and the above increase in chronic illness.”
To cope with these increases, several changes are being brought in to help reduce the overall cost in the face of reduced budgets.
“We expect to address this using a combination of a number of factors, including managing long term conditions differently in primary care, through investment in urgent care centres, and home visiting that will release primary care time,” said Coun Mattock.
“There will be investment in greater community support for individuals and households to help the development of self-care and coping strategies as well as health promotion and prevention.
“We recently opened up Sandford House, which will help with greater co-ordination of and better navigation to the voluntary, primary care and community support that exists.
“It is also important we place the patient in control of their condition through access to better information about conditions using web and social media and also investing in expert patient programmes and peer support networks.”