Relate, a charity that provides relationship support, commissioned NPC to develop a public policy report for their ageing and relationships campaign.
NPC was commissioned by Relate to produce a report that understands and makes the case for the importance of relationships in later life.
Despite the Older People’s Manifesto launched in 2010, the government has paid little attention to issues affecting older people. A report from the House of Lords Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change warns that ‘the Government and our society are woefully underprepared for ageing’. The changes involved create major challenges for individuals, employers, and our welfare services, and without urgent action could turn into a series of crises.
Despite similar attempts to push ageing higher up the government agenda, the importance of relationships in later life is often not recognised. Relationships play a particularly critical role in dealing with the pressures of older age, but can breakdown if they are not supported, with wide-ranging social and financial implications.
NPC conducted a literature review on the role and importance of relationships in retirement and older age. The review covered academic papers, government reports and literature from the third sector, as well as findings from research by Ipsos Mori. We also led a policy review of Labour government and Coalition government policy to investigate to what extent relationships are considered in policy-making decisions.
The review process was informed by interviews with academics, professionals from the ageing sector and figures in government, and initial findings were presented to a group of experts during a roundtable discussion. The group provided feedback to help refine our ideas and recommendations. A key part of the approach was to engage with the media to raise awareness of the importance of relationships in the ageing process.
The report—Who will love me when I’m 64?—demonstrates the importance of couple, family and social relationships in the context of ageing, and how baby boomers’ relationships may be put under strain in older age. It also outlines our recommendations for how government, local authorities, clinical commissioning groups, charities and older people themselves can work together to help our society prepare better for ageing. Currently, responsibility for ageing is split between the Department for Work and Pensions, Department for Education and the Department for Heath. The report calls for a new and comprehensive government ageing strategy and a Cabinet-level Minister of State for Ageing Society who can work across departments to drive it.
The launch event, hosted at the House of Lords, was well-attended and included panellists Esther Rantzen, journalist and television presenter and founder of ChildLine, and Baroness Tyler, chair of Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) and former CEO of Relate. The report featured on the front page of the BBC, and in numerous national newspapers, including The Times. It also featured in over 25 pieces of local radio, and Relate’s Chief Executive, Ruth Sutherland, appeared in two sessions on BBC Breakfast.
Relate are using the findings to campaign for a new government strategy on ageing that recognises the importance of relationships.
We are absolutely delighted with the Who will love me when I’m 64 report. I have been incredibly impressed with the rigour, professionalism, enthusiasm and commitment that NPC has brought to this project.