But what is often overlooked is the poor pay of those working in the caring profession:
More than 300,000 people are employed on zero hours contracts in social care alone, according to new figures which show the practice is much more widespread than previously thought.
The revelation has fuelled demands from trade unions and think tanks for tighter regulation of the contracts, under which workers are put on standby without a guaranteed minimum number of hours.
The Town Council considered, for example, "The Older Peoples Mental Health Working Group’s Report" following a presentation from its chair Mr Mark Williams last year:
www.sidmouth.gov.uk/PDFs/STC Minutes 2012/STC-110612.pdf
The District Council proposed a new care home in the grounds of Knowle as part of its planning application and its draft Local Plan. This was supported by consultant Mr Stephen Pratten of Davis Langdon:
I would like to register my support for the Local Plan in respect of 6.131- Sidmouth the Future. There is clearly a need for additional housing and care for the elderly retired residents of Sidmouth. I believe that provision of both can be provided through opportunities for residential development and the provision of a care home at Knowle (Interactive Map Ref ED02A and ED02B)
East Devon Proposed Local Plan Consultation 2012
The Economic Impact Assessment of the Knowle Site produced by Peter Brett Associates anticipated job-creation:
The proposed 60 bed graded care home at the Knowle site is estimated to generate a requirement for 12 support staff based on guidance for safe nurse staffing levels in the UK, suggested by the Royal College of Nursing.
Of these 12 jobs, a reasonable assumption is that ten (80%) would be filled by local residents. This is based on the same high proportion of local workers found in the Sidmouth
businesses survey in Chapter 4, and because care work is a relative low pay sector with anti-social hours, which is only likely to discourage long commutes.
Earlier this year, the District Council's in-house magazine addressed the problem of poor provision:
Elderly ‘suffer from poor home care’
A quarter of home-care services provided to the elderly in England are failing to meet quality and safety standards, according to a new report published by the Care Quality Commission. The CQC found evidence of rushed appointments and botched assessments during its review of 250 care services. Cllr David Rogers, Chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, was interviewed on the BBC’s Today Programme talking about the issue. Cllr Rogers was also quoted on BBC Online saying that councils are trying to "stamp out poor performance", but "as this report highlights, even the very best efforts of councils are not enough to avert the real and growing crisis we are facing in ensuring older people receive the care they deserve. The stark reality is that the current care system is underfunded and not fit for purpose."
Sidmouth has an ageing population, but the question is 'how many?' as posed by the Market Town Profile from Devon County Council and the NHS:
> Whilst those living in care homes is in fact well below the national average, there are more elderly living in their own homes receiving. In fact, the rate for Sidmouth is 24.9 per 1000 population aged 65+ compared to 20.8 for Devon overall.
> It is predicted that the number of older people 65+ will increase by 57% to 2030; the most significant increases will be in the 80-84 and 85+ age bands.
> The highest number of carers live on the south coast of Devon. As the report said: If Devon is to achieve its ambition of increasing by 10% the number of people with moderate to severe dementia who are helped to remain at home by 2013, a range of support services for carers will be essential.