Working together, improving lives

February 2024

The Importance of Caring for Older People

In the UK, there are approximately 11 million people aged 65 and over, representing a little over 20% of the population. Having grown some 1.5 million from ten years ago, and with this figure expected to increase to 13 million in the next decade, there are more conversations concerned with the importance of care for older or ageing people. Healthcare Assistants and Support Workers play a vital role in the field, enabling them to live more fulfilling lives, but with pressures on services ever present, it’s also highlighting the importance of the work they carry out. In today’s blog, we’ll be exploring the impact their work can have to a range of people.

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Older people are not merely recipients of care, they are valued members of our communities and should be respected in this way. A nurturing, empathetic approach to the care of an older person, such as good rapport with one another, is not only an integral part of the role of a healthcare professional, but also an indicator of the quality of care guaranteed.

Building meaningful relationships with older individuals in care settings cultivates a sense of belonging and togetherness, with an estimated 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 feeling lonely, it can help to reduce the feelings of isolation that can often accompany aging. In addition to a decrease in cognitive function as we age, having someone to talk to or knowing there is somebody to listen to, can directly and positively impact the ability to process information, retain memories and reduces feelings of anxiousness. Fostering compassionate connections enriches the lives of older people and can help promote positive health outcomes thus, leading to longer, healthier lives.

Increasing Independence

The importance of empowering older people cannot be understated. With aging comes a range of circumstances that may make it more difficult to live as independently as they once did, for example, through issues surrounding mobility or health conditions. Healthcare professionals and care services play a pivotal role in ensuring people can retain autonomy and agency in their lives, enabling them to maintain a sense of genuine independence whilst navigating more complex factions of daily life with some additional support.

Care services tailor care and find solutions that cater to the diverse needs and wants of older people, with considerations for their preferences and attitudes to living. This can help to foster empowerment and a sense of achievement in an individual which actively contributes to having a stronger sense of purpose.

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Family Concerns

Healthcare professionals not only provide support to older people, but are a key person in the support of their family members too. For a relative, it might be difficult to see their loved one struggling with daily tasks, and it could be equally tough trying to support them in their own home, or one that is not suited to their requirements as they age. Often family members have a lot of input to their loved ones care, but due to their own situations may not be able to provide as much support or care as they wish they could.

Providing an older person with the right levels of care in through either a home or service, can alleviate the feelings of pressure for a family member, who might find the experience of personal care to be overwhelming. Additionally, the knowledge that their relative is having their needs met by supportive, friendly staff can provide peace of mind too.

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Illness and Disease

It is unfortunately true that with ageing comes the onset of additional illnesses or disease, simply as a result of the body weakening over time. Common examples might include; arthritis, dementia, increased blood pressure or cancer to name but a few. An older person will demand a higher level of care as a result, but this has the ability to ensure a higher quality of life also.

Healthcare professionals will not only support these people with the right care necessary, but they can almost monitor for new, different or changing symptoms in someone, and often, being cared for by professionals, an older person’s changing needs are likely to be dealt with in an informed and speedy way.


Aside from the ability to provide older people with support, and give their family members a sense of ease with the knowledge that their loved one is receiving specialist professional care and support. Working in this part of the healthcare sector can indeed be beneficial for a healthcare professional too.

Older people have a whole lifetime of memories and learnt experiences with which to share with those around them. Studies have shown that connection with an older person, who shares their values, can positively impact the mental health of a younger individual and even contribute to easing the concerns surrounding aging themselves. Working in this part of the healthcare sector brings training, knowledge and understanding that doesn’t appear anywhere else. The research and medical learning in this area is ever-growing and presents opportunities for healthcare assistants to become specialists and evolve through additional qualifications and training.

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In our society and as our family members, older people often occupy an irreplaceable role as the person in our lives with the most wisdom, guidance and experiences with which we can learn from. And as the conversations surrounding the care of elderly people, be it topical issues surrounding staff numbers or the costs associated with supporting so many millions of people, continues to be debated, it should be exemplified that caring for the elderly is not merely a professional duty but also a moral obligation that is rooted in notions of empathy, dignity and respect. By providing these individuals with the quality of care that they deserve, we can affirm their value and by supporting them in their latter years with dedication, we can change the perception about ageing, where we can begin to see it a cherished phase in the development of our lives also.