Young and Old Need Care but Few Want to Think about Their Later Years; Health Wales Is Highlighting the Work of Welsh Crucible Researchers - the Cream of Welsh Research Talent. Explains His Role in the Debat Dr Martin O'Neille about How to Provide the Best Quality Social Care within Existing Resources

Article excerpt

Byline: Dr Martin O'Neille

SOCIAL science seeks to understand how society works so we can come up with policies and solutions to the problems we face.

How the elderly and infirm are cared for is a very good indication of what any society believes is important.

In the UK today care of the elderly is a major concern to everyone.

Even for the young and fit, who may consider elderly care is something they would prefer not to think about, the increasing ageing population means we'll be forced to consider, in a lot more detail, how we fund and organise it.

Care is important throughout all our lifetimes - from the care given by parents during pregnancy and infancy, through to the often guilt-ridden process of finding appropriate care for those same parents when they become elderly and infirm.

How care is delivered and the quality of that care will increasingly come to the forefront of social policy concerns in the UK.

In Wales, the demand for elderly care will be further compounded by the fact we have some of the sickest communities in the UK.

In areas like north Merthyr Tydfil, where research has shown people often start to have significant care needs from the age of 59, it's possible people will need more than a decade of elderly care before the end of their lives.

At the same time, working in the care sector is, for many, a less than glamorous or aspirational occupation - many care workers work long hours for wages at, or near, the national minimum. …